David Cameron is going to give a speech today with Lord Reid today about the AV referendum. In it, he will say:
“Too often debates about AV are less like political arguments, and more like scientific discussions, where people get lost in a language of proportionality and preferences, probabilities and possibilities.
“Of course, some of these things are important. But for me, politics shouldn’t be some mind-bending exercise. It’s about what you feel in your gut – about the values you hold dear and the beliefs you instinctively have. And I just feel it, in my gut, that AV is wrong.”
Just a reminder, this came from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, not a Richard Littlejohn column or some particularly stupid Comment is Free post. The man who directs a nation of 62 million people and controls the sixth largest economy in the world doesn’t think politics should be about thinking and weighing up different options. Oh no, that’s just “some mind-bending exercise”! No, politics is about what you feel in your gut* and your blind instincts.
Voting systems are, at heart, all about mathematics – each voting system is just a different way of counting people’s opinions. You cannot discuss any voting system without taking into account the way it behaves mathematically. The language of “proportionality and preferences, probabilities and possibilities” is not swamping the debate, it is the debate.
Imagine if this was any other debate. Imagine if David Cameron said we should ignore the clinical trials when deciding whether to fund a particular drug, or the climate models when considering pollution controls, on the grounds that all this scientific evidence was “mind-bending” and got in the way of his “instinctive beliefs”. No-one would think that was an appropriate way for an elected official to make decisions.
If you push the evidence out of the debate, all you’re left with is empty sloganising, blatant untruths and tribal party politics. Without a proper debate on the pros and cons of each voting system, the AV referendum just becomes a Cameron/Clegg popularity contest. That’s a terrible way to decide an issue that will shape government in the UK for decades to come.
* Most of what’s in your gut is digested food, so perhaps Cameron is just saying that politics should be full of shit?
#1 by Alex Greene on Monday, 18th April 2011 - 18:41 GMT+0100
To address the last sentence of your post: No, not politics. Just David Cameron, the walking gut flora.
#2 by ukenagashi on Monday, 18th April 2011 - 23:05 GMT+0100
It’s a stunning point you just throw in the end there, about how people are using this as a Cameron/Clegg popularity contest. Because that’s pretty much what people are doing. Want to stick it to Clegg? Vote no to AV! The worst part is, so many people *do* want to stick it to Clegg. I don’t think it’ll be Cameron winning if it doesn’t go through, I think Clegg will have lost it.
But yeah, when you put it into perspective like that, that this new voting system will affect all of us for a very significant length of time, you can’t tie it to these guys. These guys, let’s not kid ourselves, are going to have fuck all to do with most of AV’s lifespan, should it come about. People need to stop making it about them.
Also, yay science?
#3 by Russell on Tuesday, 19th April 2011 - 19:58 GMT+0100
Oh, I don’t know- ‘in my gut’, i just feel that proportional representation would be right..
#4 by Daz on Wednesday, 20th April 2011 - 22:40 GMT+0100
“In my gut” I’d rather have a PM who relied on things like “facts”. I have this “instinct” that knowing what one is talking about should be a prerequisite of enacting policies that affect the lives of millions of people. Just a feeling.
#5 by Brian Higgy on Tuesday, 26th April 2011 - 7:33 GMT+0100
They have already ignored all the clinical evidence on Homeopathy, going against the advise of their own committee that investigated the funding of it through the NHS. I suggest that if CallMeDave has any more “gut” feelings he should take a sugar pill.
#6 by Rollo on Wednesday, 4th May 2011 - 20:29 GMT+0100
“In summing up, it’s the Constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe and — No, that’s it. It’s the vibe!”
– Dennis Denuto, “The Castle”, Village Roadshow Films 1997
We don’t use costly “voting machines” in Australia. We use pencil and paper.
Election Results in the Lower House (I note that tke UK doesn’t even vote for the Upper House) are usually known that night and are counted by hand.
The most expensive bit of kit used to perform an Australian election is usually the barbecue outside which is used for having a sausage sizzle. Elections in Australia wouldn’t be the same without the smell of sausages wafting in the air.