How do I feel about the Referendum result?

My wife asked me this morning how I felt about the result of the referendum on the Alternative Vote. 

I’m not sure how she was expecting me to be feeling. Other people have asked me if I’m disappointed, or sad or angry.  I could be all of these things but how I actually feel about the campaign is proud.

I am disappointed about the result but I’m proud about the way we campaigned in Edinburgh. Everyone has put as much time and effort into the campaign as they could spare.   I am really humbled and inspired by how much my companionaros have put in.  So many of them have done so much. Much, much more than anyone had any right to ask or expect of them.  That’s volunteers for you. They volunteer.

They certainly put in the hours. Hours of flyering on the streets of Edinburgh and the Lothians. Hours of phone calls. Hours of leafleting. Hours of writing letters and articles and blogs. They’ve also done all this work in a really positive way. We’ve tried to engage with voters. We’ve tried to be honest and positive and to keep our focus on what the people get out of a change to the system.

Standing for hours in the rain trying to persuade people to vote for a positive change is hard work.

Harder work is trying to campaign in the way that we have tried to do it. When we first started organising the Edinburgh group we sat down in the pub and talked about how we wanted to do things.  We wanted to be able to discuss politics but without making partisan digs at each other. We wanted to treat each other with respect. We wanted to have fun. We wanted everyone to come away from the process having been enriched by it. I think we succeeded and I’m proud to have played my part in creating the group.

I’ve certainly been enriched by my experience of the campaign.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk with people from lots of different political parties and from none about what they believe and why they believe it. I’ve been forced to slow down and listen to what they have to say.  So I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve learnt about other view points. I’ve learnt how to listen and to ask more open questions. I’ve learnt how to have my mind changed.

We were campaigning for a change in the electoral system not because we personally benefited from the different system but because we believe that if you change the system, you change the way we all do politics. If the system encourages consensus and broad appeal it means more co-operation, better synthesis of different views and needs,  more network and relationship building and less aggressive adversarial hectoring bullying power hungry and desperately personal politics.

I wanted to be part of a new way of doing politics. I still do and I am.  I wanted to help create a group that tried to campaign in the way we wanted all our politicians to campaign. I wanted our local campaign to be about Us and the People having a conversation, not Me.  I think we achieved that. I think we’ve shown that there can be a different way of doing things. Even if only we noticed the difference we’ve still done things in a better way.

The point of the last year is that elections are for the people to decide. I can’t own the outcome but I can own my own process.  I can’t pick the result. The only thing I can control is what I do. The only thing we can control is how we do what we do. The process of the campaign, in Edinburgh, has been right. I don’t mean that the operations have been perfect and smooth and brilliant. I mean how we’ve worked together and how we’ve engaged with our fellow citizens.

I’ve really enjoyed the work I’ve done for the campaign. I’ve learnt a lot about other people and about myself and I’m proud of what we’ve done and how we’ve done it. We did our best and we did it in the best possible way.

I’m not disappointed. I’m proud.

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Why the Alternative Vote is Fairer and Gives Voters More Power

It’s been nearly a year since we started campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum on the Alternative Vote. In that time I’ve spent lots of time on the streets telling people about the advantages of the alternative voting system. I’ve also spent time on the phone. During that time I’ve been trying to work out what is different about this campaign compared to general election campaigns. We were flyering last night outside Waverely station and stopped for a bit to discuss what we doing on Thursday. We were asked which constituency were we in and therefore where we were in Edinburgh. Then it struck me what was different. We were at Waverley because it’s a good way to flyer people who live in the wider Lothian area and in this election every vote counts. In a general election it matters where your vote is cast. It matters because some constituencies are more marginal than others. Some voters have more power than others. This is the first election I can remember where every vote counted equally no matter where it was cast in the country. Every voice is equal.

Wouldn’t it be right and fair if all elections were like that? I’d like an electoral system where more votes are counted and no votes are wasted. Where how much influence you had over the result wasn’t determined by which suburb you lived in. Where more than just 1.6% of voters who live in marginal seats decided the who the government was. Well the Alternative Vote helps.

The average power of a voter is currently 0.285 under First Past the Post. This means that the average voter has just over ¼ of a vote. Using the Alternative Vote this increases by 23.5% to 0.352. This creates 44 more marginal seats. Candidates will have to aim for 50% of the vote and reach out to more voters more often. Small parties and independents will have the same fighting chance as the larger parties to appeal to voters.

The Alternative Vote is a simple and fair way to increase the power of voters in all the constituencies of the UK.

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How do I pick the best Yes to the Alternative Vote Video

Whilst I’ve been out on the streets of Edinburgh campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum next Thursday by talking to folk about the advantages of the Alternative Vote and why we should change from First Past the Post, the old fashioned X Voting System other people have been making videos. Dan Snow, Steven Fry, Yes to Fairer Votes, my dad and some Cats have all had a go. There are so many to chose from I’m struggling to decide which is the best video. There are good and bad things about all of them. If only I had some voting system that let me rank the videos in the order in which I like them and them compare my preferences with everyone elses to find the one we think is the best video overall. What’s that you say? There is a voting system that will let me do that. It’s called the Alternative Vote and it’s a simple and effective way to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. Dammit, that’s so crazily democratic it might just work.

First there is is the Dan Snow Video

It has a good explaination of how the system works and it has Dan Snow in it and I like him. He comes across as wise but still the kind of chap you’d go for a pint with but it promotes drinking beer and I need to lose weight and I can’t drink beer. Mmmh.

Second there is the Stephen Fry video.

It’s got Stephen Fry in it. Stephen bloody Fry and as if that isn’t enough it also explains how simple the Alternative Vote is but I’m not sure about the cartoon and it does have the phrase not fit for purpose which in the Editor’s opinion is not fit for purpose. Also, every has always like Stephen Fry most and I think it might be time for a change.

Thirdly there is the video that the Yes Campaign shot last week in Edinburgh and all round the country.

This one has Eddie Izzard and it’s also got my dad in it! That’s my dad, there, in one of the flicky quick bits.  I like Eddie Izzard, he’s a bit cooler than Stephen Fry and I learnt a lot about politics from my dad. On the down side, my dad isn’t it for very long. He doesn’t get much of a say, there are a lot of people in the video, it’s a broad coalition. Too broad.

I really like this video which is a song by someone I follow on Twitter and quite like.

I like that it is a song with a tune and it’s catchy and I can sing along with it. However, it’s a song about a voting system and I don’t think it has a chance of winning because it’s a bit nerdy for mainstream video watching and it doesn’t have a celebrity in it. I don’t think it has a chance of winning really.

Lastly, there is the infamous cat video.

It’s pretty appealing if you like cats and nothing but cats. However, I hate cats. I’d never want to vote for a cat. Ever.

What a to do.  If only I had a chance to vote for a new electoral system that let me rank these candidates in order of preference. If only I could vote yes to the alternative vote in the referendum on 5th May.

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An A-Z of rubbish arguments from No2AV

An A-Z of rubbish arguments from No2AV.

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Vote Yes for Change. Vote No for More of the Same

On 5th May you can vote Yes for a change to the Alternative Vote System, or you can vote No for more of the same.

It’s a simple choice, Yes for change, or No for more of the same.

More tribal politics. More politicians shouting Boo Yah at each other so loudly that neither you nor they can hear what is actually being said.  More young men and women spending their whole lives in a Westminster cocoon, so wrapped up in their tribe that they are unable to conceive that the the “enemy” might just have a point. So isolated from the real lives of real people that they can’t talk to you and won’t listen.

More Party Hacks being parachuted in safe seats they’ve never visited after a life spent as interns in Westminster and blindly following their whips through the lobbies.

More contempt. Not just MP’s being held in contempt by the public but the public being held in contempt by MP’s.  Ignoring your views and stealing your money.

More influence for a tiny fraction of voters and those with the money to persuade them one way or another. 1.6% of voters decided the last election in a handful of marginal seats. These seats were flooded with money by backers of both the big parties desperate to buy an election.

More of our politicians being in thrall to their big money backers.  More of Ashcroft and Murdoch and Crow calling the shots.

More disenfranchisement. As politicians and politics drifts further away from us more and more of us will find our votes wasted supporting parties and ideas who can’t get a fair chance to be represented and more and more of us will feel that even voting is a waste of our time.

The definiation of insanity is to keep doing the same thing in the same way and to expect a different outcome.  If you want more of the same, vote NO. If you are happy with the way politics is done in our country, vote No. If you one of the few thousand voters who’s vote really matters, Vote No to the Alternative Vote.

The only change on offer on the 5th of May is the Alternative Vote.

Vote Yes for change.

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Edinburgh Says Yes on the Beach – Guest Post by Kate

As part of a nationwide series of Purple Picnics at the beach the Edinburgh Yes to Fairer Votes campaign joined hundreds of campaigners across the UK in an awareness raising event at some of the nation’s favourite beach. Electoral Reform campaigners from Devon to the North of Scotland took part in building Yeses bigger than the Royal Wedding.

The Edinburgh Yes to Fairer Votes group met at Portobello Beach on Easter Sunday to raise awareness of the upcoming referendum on 5th May and about the advantages of the Alternative Vote voting system. Whilst creating the 25 foot high beach sand display the group met many members of the public, all keen to find out what we were up to!

We spoke to one chap (and his lovely dog) who had already sent in his vote of ‘Yes’ by post last week and was pleased to see us working hard to get the message out to the undecided public.

A very lively conversation was had with another young man who was not yet convinced the AV system would work for the UK. He hadn’t yet made up his mind how he would vote on 5th May but he sure did go away with a lot of food for thought and, hopefully, a clearer idea of how AV might help the UK become more diplomatic. A fun day out was had by all the volunteers (and their families!).

The sun was shining, the sea was sparkling and we all enjoyed digging and building in the sand. We were even joined by baby Jack who helped out by directing our efforts whilst pottering around eating some of the delicious purple Yes to Fairer Votes cakes brought along by The display took two and a half hours to create including breaks to chat with people strolling the promenade or to enjoy a cuppa and a cake.

Our day out was even covered by the Edinburgh Reporter.

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A few notes on the Edinburgh Alternative Vote Debate

Last Saturday whilst the Edinburgh Yes to  Fairer Votes group were unfurling our muckle great banner and holding two street stalls the No campaign were hosting a debate on adopting the Alternative Vote. We managed to send along about a quarter of the audience. Here is what some of them had to say about the debate on adopting the Alternative Vote.

Maurice writes…

When it was Edinburgh’s turn to have one of the No campaign’s chain of debates, March 26, it was not to our knowledge publicised at all outside the 2 campaigns. Only 16 seats were laid out, so they were far from expecting a rush. It was held incredibly on a landing, with the stairwell straight behind us, in a small theatre. Yet the No speaker, Lord Falconer, spun to the local press as well as that audience, that an attendance of only 12 showed public disinterest.
Just as contrived as this, was his muddling of the picture. He wrongly counted the second choice of voters whose first choice is still in the race, when trying to claim an unfairness.
The invited Yes speaker Ian Baxter presented well the tactical voting problem, who you think can win versus who you really want. He said, without this problem some MPs who now have over 50% votes would not, so AV would make a wider impact than Falconer had
suggested. Questions from our side covered accountability and majorities against an FPTP winner.
More Yes than No sentiment was heard from the audience, so it came out well for us. No straw poll was taken, it just closed with go forth and vote.

Hamish who was also at the debate wrote to the Edinburgh Evening News

The city’s answer to AV is not “No” but rather “Don’t care” — which
is precisely why returning a Yes is so important. Politics has reached
the stage where even the second ever referendum in UK history is met
with apathy because people believe voting doesn’t change anything. But
that is exactly why AV matters. If you think politics is a waste of
time, this is your one chance to make a difference.

You can see the Edinburgh Evening News coverage of the debate here and you can see our co-convenor Helen’s response to the debate here

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