Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why David Cameron Is A Liar

by Peter Bensley

published on Facebook on Thursday, 21 April 2011: reprinted with permission.

Here's the full text of Cameron's speech on AV:

I don't mean to give the impression that there is only one lie in this speech. This is not at all the case. But rather than enumerate and refute them one by one I want to focus on one and make it absolutely clear why I am convinced that the Prime Minister is trying to mislead you.

"Supporters of unpopular parties end up having their votes counted a number of times…

…potentially deciding the outcome of an election…

…while people who back more popular parties only get one vote."

Let's look at a sample AV Election:

First Round: E is eliminated.

■A 22

■B 21

■C 20

■D 19

■E 18

Second Round: D is eliminated.

■A 27

■B 25

■C 24

■D 23

Third Round: B is eliminated.

■A 34

■B 32

■C 34

Fourth Round: A is the winner.

■A 55

■C 45

According to David Cameron, E voters are counted four times: For their first choice in the first round, their second in the second, and so on, while A voters are only counted once.

This is a lie.

The fact is, the votes for all candidates are counted four times. The votes for A are counted in the first round, then again in the second round, then again in the third and fourth rounds.

If the A & B votes truly were counted only once, and weren't counted as many times as the C/D/E votes, the election would look like this:

First Round: E is eliminated.

■A 22

■B 21

■C 20

■D 19

■E 18

Second Round: B is eliminated.

■A 5

■B 4

■C 24

■D 23

Third Round: A is eliminated.

■A 6

■C 25

■D 25

Fourth Round: C is eliminated. D is the winner.

■C 24

■D 26

If you vote for a candidate who is never eliminated, your second choice never comes into play, but your vote is cast in every round, and keeps your candidate from being eliminated in every round.

So when the Prime Minister says that E voters get many votes while A voters only get one, there are only two possibilities:

1.The Prime Minister of the UK does not understand how runoff voting works.

2.David Cameron is deliberately lying to us all for political gain, and hopes that we will be too naive to catch him doing it.

We've all heard a lot of jokes about how lying is to politicians what swimming is to fish, so it's easy to be cynical and blase about this kind of dishonesty. It's easy to keep on voting for someone even when he clearly has this much contempt for you, because, hey, the alternatives are all politicians and therefore liars too, right?

By treating this behaviour as inevitable we've made it acceptable, and that's what I'd like to see change.


Martin said...

I suspect that one result of this sort of deliberate misinformation is popular confusion over the issue. "Don't Know" seems to be a widespread opinion amongst people with no previous interest in Electoral Reform.

This might result in the sort of low turn-out you get for those frequent Irish constitutional referenda. In which case the "No" campaign may well resort to Sinn Fein's 1998 slogan:-

If You Don't Know, Vote No.

Richard Gadsden said...

Not only is this a lie, he's deliberately deceiving by confusing the two meanings of the word "count".

In one sense, some votes really are counted more than others - the physical sheets of paper are counted by the counting staff more times than others. In another, much more important sense, they all count - after all, we can just add-on the number of ballot papers where we know what they are.

Quite a few people I know were confused that the party that came first on first preferences would need to come first on second preferences as well and complained that they couldn't cast their first preference and their second preference for the same person. They had been misled into believing that the second round only involved number 2 votes.