The Daily Mail, fascism and No2AV: A comedy of errors

Left Foot Forward's Dominic Browne rebuts the latest Daily Mail/No2AV misreporting of electoral reform and the alternative vote referendum.

Having first used a ‘vote down AV or the baby gets it’ line, then having smeared Yes to Fairer Votes funders, while refusing to reveal their own, the No2AV campaign, via the Daily Mail, is trying a new tactic: presenting untruths.

The Mail reports today, under a craftily framed headline, that there are ‘fears’ a move to AV could give BNP voters “more say at the ballot box”. This must be why the BNP is against AV.

To be fair, the Mail do report this but bury it two-thirds of the way down the piece in small paragraph sandwiched between anti-AV rhetoric.

The Mail reports:

“Election candidates will have to pander to the views of supporters of the far-Right BNP and other minority parties if Britain agrees to scrap the traditional first-past-the-post electoral system, campaigners warned last night…

“Those voting for the BNP and other small parties will see their votes counted over and over again, with their second, third and subsequent preferences influencing the result.”

The Mail then went on to report research from the No to AV campaign on the general election in 2010 that claims:

“More than 90 per cent of Labour and Conservative voters would have been unlikely to get a second vote.

“By contrast, in some constituencies, supporters of the BNP would have had their preferences counted six times before a winner was declared. In all, BNP voters would have had two or more votes counted in 193 constituencies.”

This is a completely false presentation of the facts. There is no truth in claim that those who vote for extremist parties get extra votes.

As Will Straw wrote here:

“With AV everyone gets one vote. The difference is that with AV gives you a vote that really counts and more of a say on who your local MP is. If your first choice gets knocked out your vote is transferred to your second preference.

“But regardless of whether you just vote ’1′ for your favourite candidate or list a preference for every candidate on the ballot, only one vote will be counted. If you go to the pub and order a pint of Carling but they are out of Carling and you choose a pint of John Smith’s instead, you’ve still only had one pint.”

On the issue of extremism this is particularly disingenuous.

AV encourages parties to reach out to the mainstream in order to win second and third preference votes from other main parties. Why would you reach out to the supporters of a party that secured under 2% of the national vote at the last election. AV provides a clear block to so-called “Marmite” parties.

Sunder Katwala destroyed the myth that AV is good for extremism here earlier this month:

“Leading pollster Peter Kellner has set out why the BNP’s call for a No vote makes sense from the viewpoint of their own party interest – and has called AV: ‘The most extremist-proof of all electoral systems.’

“The reason why is captured in today’s shock opinion poll in France, which has Le Pen of the Front National as the leading candidate with most first preference votes:

“Marine Le Pen (NF) – 23%; Sarkozy (UMP) – 22%; Aubry (Socialist) – 22%.

“Le Pen may be the first-past-the-post leader in this one poll. But, under the French second ballot, a close cousin of the Alternative Vote, we know that Le Pen would be opposed by 75% of voters if she made the final two-candidate run-off, as centre-right and centre-left voters would rally to the mainstream democratic opponent, as we saw in 2002, when the Front National eliminated the Socialists, whose voters supported Jacques Chirac.”

May be its time for No2AV to turn to plan D – discussing the facts of the argument?

40 Responses to “The Daily Mail, fascism and No2AV: A comedy of errors”

  1. Chris Phillips

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  2. Keiran Macintosh

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  3. David Trussler

    RT @leftfootfwd The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii < Good piece. (Love the Will Straw quote.)

  4. Chris Phillips

    RT @davidTrussler: RT @leftfootfwd The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii < Good piece. (Love t …

  5. Martin Johnston

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  6. YES! To Fairer Votes

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  7. Nathan Bale

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  8. Stace

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  9. John Symons

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  10. Toby D'Olier

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  11. Niklas Smith

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  12. John Anderson

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  13. Ben Cadwallader

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  14. Andrew Hickey

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  15. Jack Allnutt

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  16. Chris Blackwood

    Will Straw's Beer /AV analogy is great, see Para 11 on: http://bit.ly/i9qEqX #YestoAV

  17. Nick Cotter

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  18. Simon Adams

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  19. mark flannery

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  20. Bernard von Schulman

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  21. Lucas

    Whether the vote on the electoral system panders to the BNP or not is really of no concern, what is of concern is the vehement dislike of democracy being espoused by those who use the BNP as a crutch in this debate.

    I find their views absolutely reprehensible and vile, but I would not silence those who support them (ironic how those who shout nazi at the BNP at every possible occasion now try to silence a legitimate political party, whether we like them or not. That’s an entirely undemocratic stance to take.

  22. John Franglen

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  23. James Douglas

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  24. Jonathan Phillips

    For anyone’s vote to be counted “five or six times” three conditions would have to be met. First, there would have to be sufficient candidates. Second, the voter in question would have consistently to mark transfers to the next-least-popular candidate. Third, no candidate must reach 50 per cent before five or six rounds of counting have been completed. There are no sound anti-AV arguments (or at least none that aren’t also arguments against FPTP), so the anti brigade have to keep making stuff up. See http://JnthnPhllps.blog.co.uk/2011/03/23.

  25. Matthew Goodwin

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and No2AV: A comedy of errors http://bit.ly/gnFn9d

  26. Steven Fielding

    RT @GoodwinMJ: RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and No2AV: A comedy of errors http://bit.ly/gnFn9d

  27. Richard Owen

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV #FB

  28. alex

    Lucas, you are absolutely right that no voting system should exclude a candidate or their voters because of the way the system works. However it should allow the voters to do this if the majority of them are opposed to that candidate’s views. And it is also right that a system should not allow a candidate to be elected if the majority of voters are opposed to them. FPTP fails on both these counts.

  29. Shamik Das

    @clairee_french Hey! Here's our rebuttal to that mad Mail/BNP/AV story: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV http://myloc.me/iVLLd

  30. Phillip Dyte

    RT @taloncab: Will Straw's Beer /AV analogy is great, see Para 11 on: http://bit.ly/i9qEqX #YestoAV

  31. Chris Bramall

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  32. Satire & Cream

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  33. Robert CP

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  34. Daniel Pitt

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail, fascism and #No2AV: A comedy of errors: http://bit.ly/hljtii @YesInMay #Yes2AV

  35. YES! To Fairer Votes

    @TimTim1981 AV makes it harder for the BNP: http://bit.ly/e26i0j

  36. Indy front page makes the case for AV | Left Foot Forward

    […] and misreporting – as Will Straw has done this morning in respect of Baroness Warsi and as Dominic Browne did yesterday over a misleading Daily Mail […]

  37. Wesley Williams

    Here's a good summary for why voting for AV does not benefit facists (like the BNP etc): http://bit.ly/g7RY5c

  38. British democracy is run on unpaid labour | Left Foot Forward

    […] are some of his articles to date: • “The Daily Mail, fascism and No2AV: A comedy of errors” – March […]

  39. Debunked: The latest No2AV 'AV/BNP' spin | Left Foot Forward

    […] still tiny) chance of one getting in, were the anti-BNP vote to split many ways; and as has been widely reported, Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, is against AV and will be voting no in the […]

  40. Joe

    The trouble is that attacking No2AV (an obviously ridiculous organisation, campaigning in a ridiculous way) on the basis that they are scaremongering and fabricating claims about AV, is a position which is completely undermined by an article which has as its central premise that FPTP is more BNP-friendly.

    Unfortunately, the first of the two Mail paragraphs quoted still stands. Campaigning under AV WILL encolurage attempts to gather second preferences, and in some constituencies, unpalatable, far-right, anti-immigration views (whether UKIP, BNP etc) ARE prevalent, and will have to be redistributed somewhere. Also it has to be recognised that this problem can only be exacerbated under AV: many voters currently recognise that BNP votes are wasted under FPTP, and vote elsehwere accordingly. First preference votes going to the BNP will only increase under AV. This is by no means an argument (which Sunder Katwala correctly disproves) that the BNP will be able to win enough votes to put anyone in Parliament, but the appearance of their vote-share, and correspondingly, their political salience, is likely to increase.

    It strikes me that the Yes campaign really is having its cake and eating it – pointing out all the manifestly ridiculous stances taken up by No2AV, and countering them with very dubious claims of their own.

    I myself have not yet made up my mind on AV, but will not be swayed by either side in this rather stupid, ‘you want to help the BNP’, Godwin’s Law-like debate.

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