Matt Wootton reports on the inventive and creative grass-roots campaigning for the Alternative Vote, that is taking off on the internet.
Matt Wootton studies cognitive policy with his colleague Rupert Read at the Green Words Workshop
While the official Yes to Fairer votes campaign has been criticised for an overly-conventional approach, unpaid and un-aligned campaigners have been coming together via the internet to produce videos, leaflets, games, postcards and events, overcoming the barriers of distance and anonymity.
One Facebook page has nearly 4000 fans.
Another Facebook group of which I am a member has been responsible for, amongst other things, producing a YouTube presence called “The People Say Yes”. Output so far includes a talking dog (Victor the AV Dog) with five different video messages about AV, who waves a little union jack on the end of his tail; a sober animated video showing how, contrary to the No campaign’s claims, AV is bad news for the BNP; and a video of the Jackson 5 song “ABC” with the Jackson brothers wearing Yes to AV rosettes, dancing on Westminster Bridge and singing: “That’s AV, it’s easy as 1 2 3”.
All our uploaded videos can be seen at The People Say Yes, YouTube page. One particularly fun campaign tool that you won’t find on YouTube is Let ‘Em AV It, a flash-powered online game where you take control of a friendly little Yes campaigner struggling to get his vote to the ballot box whilst battling the likes of a pixellated Ken Clarke, Rupert Murdoch and Nick Griffin. Stephen Fry has been playing it, and he tweeted as much.
There is also my own Yes! Postcards site , with over 50 different Yes-themed postcard messages. Our group is also collecting and “favouriting” other unofficial campaign efforts such as a video by one “C.G.P. Grey” who explains the Alternative Vote system with the use of jungle animals, a video that’s gone viral with nearly 100,000 views.
London-based singer-songwriter MJ Hibbett has written an upbeat cheeky song “I’m Saying Yes” (with the lyric “and I don’t care if that pleases Nick Clegg”). In Hibbett’s video Nick Clegg does a dance in fish-net tights, a wig and a mini-skirt. And TV historian and BBC One Show presenter Dan Snow is a favourite too, with his own video showing how AV is something we all do in our everyday lives. You can access our collected Favourites here.
Fate dictated that there would be only one official Yes campaign. That’s what the Electoral Commission asked for, and that’s what we’ve got. But there are more people than just the team at Yes to Fairer Votes with a stake in the referendum. There are thousands, if not millions of people in Britain who also care about the outcome. And the fact that there has been this swell of, dare I say capable and credible grass-roots output can only vouch for the sincerity, passion and commitment of pro-AV campaigners around the country, whether they are affiliated with the official Yes campaign or not.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.