Why I voted No to AV

An explanation of a vote against the liberal consensus.

Unlike being the only gay in the village, being the only liberal on the "wrong side" of a constitutional reform debate is not necessarily a thing to boast loudly about.

Indeed, one cannot be absolutely delighted at the company one is keeping.

But, a couple of months or so on from my post setting out the liberal case against the Alternative Vote system, today I voted "No" to AV.

I do not feel that strongly about the issue, and the introduction of AV would be nowhere near a calamity; that is why I am merely posting an explanation today, rather than a post urging a "No" vote earlier in the week.

And I certainly have no wish for any post of mine to be used again by the hapless, misleading, and disgraceful official No campaign, and certainly no one should vote No by reason of costs, complexity, or Clegg.

All the same, my No vote was on a principled and reasoned basis, and so it may be interesting to others to know what that basis was.

First, I simply do not accept your second or third preferences should have the same weight as my first preference, or vice versa. Here, I am familiar with all the counter-arguments about this not meaning there are "two bites of the cherry" and that everyone (somehow) still has one vote. I am familiar also with the actual mechanism of AV in practice.

However, I just cannot see how a second or third preference should be accorded equal weight with a first preference. For me, this violates the basic principle of equality of votes.

Second, and as a consequence, I cannot accept that adding together first and second preferences, and so on, creates any real - rather than an artificial - majority in an applicable constituency.

Otherwise, AV seems to have exactly the same faults as First Past the Post in regards of proportionality. The legislature will still not reflect the proportions of votes cast overall, and safe seats will still exist. Nothing fundamental will change.

However, this is not an issue to lose either sleep or friends over, and a win for AV today will not upset any sensible person, and it will upset quite a few senseless ones.

Given the expected low turnout, a win for AV may also provide us with the harmless pleasure of hearing its advocates explain the legitimacy of a new voting system which was supported by less than 50 per cent of those entitled to vote.

David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman and author of the Jack of Kent blog.

His legal journalism has included popularising the Simon Singh libel case and discrediting the Julian Assange myths about his extradition case.  His uncovering of the Nightjack email hack by the Times was described as "masterly analysis" by Lord Justice Leveson.

David is also a solicitor and was successful in the "Twitterjoketrial" appeal at the High Court.

(Nothing on this blog constitutes legal advice.)

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Why are refugees throwing themselves on train tracks in Hungary?

Hungarian authorities have stopped a train carrying refugees from Budapest. 

Hungarian police have stopped a train full of refugees bound for the Austrian border. Other passangers were taken off to board a replacement train, while police attempted to have the refugees disembark at the Hungarian town of Bickse, where there is a migrant detention centre.

The Gulf Today reports that some of those on board were banging on the windows chanting "no camp, no camp", referring to the detention centre.

More than 2,000 migrants have been waiting outside Budapest's main station to board trains to Germany and Austria, although few intercity trains are running. Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, has said that the crisis is a "German problem" and that Europe has a moral imperative not to encourage refugees. Speaking in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Orban has talked of defending Europe's "Christian values" against a "flood" from overseas.

ITV's Europe Editor, James Mates, has followed the train in Hungary and is posting updates via Twitter. He reports that it initially left Budapest station with most of those on board assuming it would continue to Austria:

The train was then stopped in Bickse, around 30 miles outside Budapest, where riot police were there to meet it.

As the refugees realised that they weren't going to get to Austria, they began to protest, and were corralled by riot police:

Ultimately, the police were unable to force the refugees to go to the camp, and had to let them reboard the train.

The train is now waiting in the station. Police are now handing out bottled water, but it's unclear what will happen next.

Follow James Mates on Twitter here.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland