Friday, 24 September 2010

New Statesman: AV letter of mine published today

 When Vernon Bogdanor taught me Political Institutions at Oxford, he always stressed the importance of detailed and unsensational attention to the actual facts. Sadly, he seems to have forgotten this advice in his own piece on AV in your 20 September edition. There, he repeatedly warns that the outcome of AV elections can (allegedly) "fail to reflect the majority view of voters". To support this contention he cites numerous statistical 'examples' from Australia and elsewhere. But what he completely fails to do is to provide information about the second etc. preferences of those voters who go to make up the majority. When that information is taken into account, Bogdanor's contention falls - at the first hurdle. For the plain fact is of course that every single seat decided under AV is decided by the preferences of a majority of voters.
 It is profoundly misleading to make a case about an alleged weakness in AV using only stats about voters' first preferences. Such a case in effect begs the question against AV altogether, by simply assuming the case in favour of FPTP.
 I expect such wrong-headed propaganda from the likes of the 'Taxpayers Alliance'. But I am disappointed to see it coming from the likes of Professor Bogdanor.
Faithfully,
Councillor Dr. Rupert Read.

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25. 26. New Statesman: AV letter of mine published today 27. 28.

29.
 When Vernon Bogdanor taught me Political Institutions at Oxford, he always stressed the importance of detailed and unsensational attention to the actual facts. Sadly, he seems to have forgotten this advice in his own piece on AV in your 20 September edition. There, he repeatedly warns that the outcome of AV elections can (allegedly) "fail to reflect the majority view of voters". To support this contention he cites numerous statistical 'examples' from Australia and elsewhere. But what he completely fails to do is to provide information about the second etc. preferences of those voters who go to make up the majority. When that information is taken into account, Bogdanor's contention falls - at the first hurdle. For the plain fact is of course that every single seat decided under AV is decided by the preferences of a majority of voters.
 It is profoundly misleading to make a case about an alleged weakness in AV using only stats about voters' first preferences. Such a case in effect begs the question against AV altogether, by simply assuming the case in favour of FPTP.
 I expect such wrong-headed propaganda from the likes of the 'Taxpayers Alliance'. But I am disappointed to see it coming from the likes of Professor Bogdanor.
Faithfully,
Councillor Dr. Rupert Read.
30. 31. 32.