Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:32 am
It's been a while since I felt so completely out of step with what polls and elections tell me is the national mood. A friend of mine just emailed the list of places that actually voted Yes to AV -- Hackney, Glasgow Kelvin, Islington, Haringey, Lambeth, Cambridge, Oxford, Southwark, Camden, Edinburgh Central -- which makes some sense of this, because it is to an almost comic degree a list of the places where I and my friends live or have lived. But part of me still can't really believe it. I genuinely thought that when people in this country started voting that they just realised how pathetically inadequate putting one X in one box is as a method of expression, and how tragically unrepresentative our governments have been as a result; I didn't encounter formal descriptions of electoral systems until later, but I remember thinking how absurd it was that SF awards have fairer voting systems than the UK parliament. And I genuinely thought -- still think, if I'm honest -- that AV was so transparently a solution to part of the problem that winning the referendum shouldn't be that hard. But the No campaign won thumpingly, 70/30. And now I'm angry, because now it feels like I might as well not bother voting for the rest of my life, and God forbid the referendum on Scottish independence is won, because then the country will be fucked as well. (Probably not me personally. But that just makes it worse.) Fortunately there's enough blame to go around on this one. I blame the No campaign for fear-mongering and lies, and the Yes campaign for a lack of imagination and clarity. I blame David Cameron for giving the fear-mongering and lies legitimacy and approval; and Ed Miliband for being either unable to convince his party, or not really trying, I'm not sure which; and Nick Clegg for not managing to get PR on the table, so that the Yes campaign wouldn't have been split by the ridiculous bickering about whether AV was worth it or not, and for not shutting up when it was clear he was doing more harm than good. I blame Conservative voters for being reactionary entitled shits, and Labour voters for being ignorant tribal shits, and Liberal Democrat voters for being condescending high-handed shits like me. I blame the people who enabled No to so massively outspend Yes that the playing field was tilted from the start. I blame the media for not challenging the claims made about AV -- particularly those of the No campaign, but also Yes -- and I blame whoever wrote the rules on public broadcaster impartiality so restrictively. I blame the national curriculum for not providing a basic grounding in electoral systems, and teachers for not providing it anyway. I blame the economic climate and the political climate. I blame everyone who voted out of political calculation, rather than on the merits of the question at hand. I blame everyone who obsessed about edge cases, either not understanding or not caring that the failure modes of FPTP are worse and more common than the failure modes of AV, and I blame everyone who thought an incremental change wasn't good enough. I blame everyone who didn't vote. I blame you. I blame myself. Of course, I don't really mean all of this. Of course, I mean every word. Who did I miss?
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:41 am (UTC)

You forgot to blame the Queen and the wider royal family. Otherwise a clean sweep :)

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
And our more generalised Lizard Alien Overlords...

But yes, I think you have it surrounded.

Personally, if Scotland does go independent, there's a non-trivial chance I'd emigrate there.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:51 am (UTC)
I suspect "Moving to Scotland" will become to the UK what "Moving to Canada" is to the US.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:52 am (UTC)
Don't get me started on the result of the Canadian election or the need for electoral reform in Canada. Just don't...
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
You mean the election where most people got screwed by FPTP? ;-)
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:38 am (UTC)
Like I said - don't get me started!
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:57 am (UTC)
I assume that you'll bring your passport :->
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 10:04 am (UTC)
I imagine that when Scotland becomes independent they will have to give us poor bastards south of the border dual citizenship if we want it.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:53 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm with you on all of this.

And despite doing all of my campaigning in an area that voted Yes, I still blame myself for not doing more.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:53 am (UTC)
I donated to the campaign, but that was all. Bah.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:14 am (UTC)
Likewise. And I tried to persuade friends and family (hopefully without pissing them off too much), but it was very much preaching to the choir.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:17 am (UTC)
That's true, I did persuade one of my colleagues, who had only seen No materials, to vote Yes.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
Well, there you go!
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
I hadn't realised that your district is in the list as well! Tempted to do an LJ poll to find out who isn't in one of the eight, or hasn't been at some point...
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 12:17 pm (UTC)
And previously I've lived in... good god, Camden, Haringey and Lambeth.

Maybe I should use this as a shortlist for the next time I move. Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh all sound pretty good. Southwark? Not sure what it's like to live there, but it's certainly got plenty of artsy stuff going on...
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:22 am (UTC)
You forgot Green voters
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
For not being numerous enough? :-p
(deleted comment)
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:45 am (UTC)
Well, I think I'd dispute that "most" -- part of the point of the post is that I don't think the No vote can be explained by a single cause or a couple of causes. Some people are stupid, sure, and some are willfully obtuse, and some are genuinely confused, and some are malicious, and etc etc etc.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
I did talk a few people (who seemed mostly uninformed either way) into voting for AV. I wish I'd campaigned. I wish my reaction wasn't so cynically 'yeah, of course people said no; they were told to in louder voices'. And I'm angered beyond measure that some people seemed to regard the vote as some sort of referendum on Nick Clegg.

For data: not only did this area vote No (by 65%), not a single seat in the local council election changed hands. And only 40% turnout. Change? Ha.
Edited 2011-05-07 10:36 am (UTC)
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:46 am (UTC)
And I'm angered beyond measure that some people seemed to regard the vote as some sort of referendum on Nick Clegg.

In their decision of how to vote, or in their interpretation of the result? Either way, yes.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:52 am (UTC)
Yes, both ways.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 10:43 am (UTC)
Blame my cat, he's evil.

I hadn't seen that list but it gives me some small cheer as I'm Glasgow Kelvin.

A small comment: there will be a referendum on Scottish Independence but by no means does it mean that it's a certainty that the Scots will vote to break away. I felt a lot of disappointment listening to radio 2 yesterday which suggested that was all the country wanted rather that complete disillusion with the other options available and reasonable satisfaction with how the minority government had fared. Nothing more than that, I've not got a saltire on my face.
I wouldn't fear the referendum.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
I hadn't seen that list but it gives me some small cheer as I'm Glasgow Kelvin.

Huzzah! I wondered.

there will be a referendum on Scottish Independence but by no means does it mean that it's a certainty that the Scots will vote to break away

Yes, from what I've been reading it seems fairly unlikely. Nervous-making all the same, given the other results yesterday. (The Conservatives gained councils! Which, I haven't looked, but I bet a bunch of them were due to good old FPTP vote-splitting effect...)
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
It is devastatingly unlikely Sc will vote pro independence, this judged on anecdotal sample seems to me 100 & of the exLD and Lab voters in SC who voted SNP for first time this time, don't want independence. At All. They just didn't want to vote LD or Lab or Tory, and we had a viable alternative, which England lacked.

ALSo, as I said on Twitter, I am afraid you are vastly over compicating the issue here. UK mostly didn't CARE about AV (or, probably, PR), and those who voted, voted against it to annoy Nick Clegg. C;est ca.
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
ps I remain bemused why peole under 30 or thereabouts seemed moved by this (AV) nd people over that age, and esp over 40 (like moi)cared very little. No pundit has explained this..
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
pps to support this also anecdotal observation, those pro to AV areas are all basically full of above average bright students - hence the wonderful Beeb pundit comment that these were all areas that would "have voted yes to legalising cannabis",,
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 10:53 am (UTC)
Well, people under thirty are the ones who've come into political awareness as the political landscape has stopped being a duopoly (or the duopoly has become unsatisfying). So it makes a certain amount of sense to me that they'd be the ones most frustrated with only being able to put one X in one box.
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 10:51 am (UTC)
I'm happy to blame people who didn't care, too.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:00 am (UTC)
You mean the results of the last General Election didn't convince you that you (and I) are out of step with most of the people in this country? I've known that since the Thatcher days.

Not only are we out of step with most of the UK, but bits of the UK are out of step with each other. Scotland is turning its back on Labour, while Wales has turned towards it. The Conservatives remain very popular in England.

Peter Mandelson was saying last night that he knew AV would lose as soon as the campaign started because he, personally, figured that they would lose votes to 'No' negative campaigning and would need to start at least ten points ahead to stand a chance. 'Yes' actually started down on the polling and the situation just got worse.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
Last year, though, something like 60% of people voted in a way that I could understand, even if I didn't vote the exact same way. Which leads to a perception that 60% of people broadly feel the same way I do about things.

Plus, to the extent that I do recognise I and my friends are out at the end of a bell curve, most of the time it's an intellectual recognition. Sitting and watching the AV reports come in yesterday was visceral.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:16 am (UTC)
As an Australian who lived under preferential voting for my entire life, I am also genuinely baffled. The faults of FPTP seem transparently obvious and huge, most of the claimed problems of preferential voting (people won't understand it! Too hard to count! too expensive!) transparently false (given we use it with no such issues), and the motivations of the major parties to oppose it for dishonest reasons obvious.

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:51 am (UTC)
Part of me would like to think, in a superior fashion, that in twenty years people in the UK will look back and perhaps understand what an enormous missed opportunity this was. But it probably won't happen, either because the understanding of electoral systems will never be there, or it will be overtaken by events and something will happen that makes the result seem sane, though we don't know it now.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 12:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, I also found much of the UK debate to concentrate on bizarre cases I've never seen here in Australia.

But I note that when I did grow up in the UK, it was in or very near to Edinburgh Central.
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
there was no sensible comparison to Oz because we don't have compulsory voting..
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:27 am (UTC)
In my wider circle of acquaintances, there were a lot of people who abstained because they honestly didn't know what to vote for. And ones who voted no because they didn't understand the system or felt that the rest of the electorate just couldn't cope with the confusion.

(This included someone who was uncertain until they got to the polling booth - 3 voting papers and lots of confusion about how to fill them in and which box they were supposed to go in, not exactly helped by very bad lighting. So they voted no. Which I find incredibly depressing).

There were 800 votes in it in my constituency, which was pretty close. We were almost among the few and the purple. I did notice that the difference between for and against widens considerably as you move outwards from the centre of London.

I think Scottish independence would be a very interesting result, but I doubt it's going to happen.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 11:55 am (UTC)
I did notice that the difference between for and against widens considerably as you move outwards from the centre of London.

Yes. It would be interesting to have more detailed demographic/geographical correlation with how people voted on this.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
This is the interesting map, you may have already seen it
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that!
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
The thing about London is that a) we didn't have council elections so only people who specifically cared about the referendum actually went out and voted and b) we use AV to elect the mayor so wevknow that it is not, in fact, madly complicated.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
Wow, I can understand people voting No because thought it was too complicated but because they thought other people would find it too complicated? That blows my mind.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
And you know, there are people I know who are regular Worldcon attendees and Hugo Award voters who have told me (approximately) that they wish the Hugos didn't have this complicated system so they could just mark an X because that's how voting is supposed to work. The fact that this means that you'd almost certainly get Hugo Award winners with only about 25% support, with 75% of the electorate disliking, means nothing to them. Elections mean One And Only One Choice and anything else is Too Complicated. Sigh.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
I never saw any local advertising from the Yes campaign. We received two flyers from the No campaign. Nothing from Yes. I may live in a safe Tory seat, but I did wonder why the campaign did not bother making at least a token effort around these parts.

In other words, I have no idea why anyone around here would have had *reason* to vote Yes, unless they were actively reading further around (which voters would ideally do, of course).
Edited 2011-05-07 08:10 pm (UTC)
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 10:54 am (UTC)
I did wonder why the campaign did not bother making at least a token effort around these parts.

Lack of resources would be my first guess, but I don't know.
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 10:54 am (UTC)
(I did see someone somewhere arguing that the Yes campaign really missed a trick by not making more of the support of Nigel Farage/UKIP, and thus possibly splitting off some of the right vote.)
Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
I feel the same way - 3 days further on. I particularly blame those idiots who voted against it because they don't like Nick Clegg. I tried to persuade several people, but failed in every case.