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  1. Politics
24 August 2010

Will posters like this win the day for first-past-the-post?

The great strength of FPTP may prove to be its simplicity.

By George Eaton

The news that Matthew Elliot, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, is to lead the No campaign against the Alternative Vote has got everyone talking about electoral reform again.

The anti-AV Labour MP Tom Harris has just published a new poster (designed by the Labour activist Adam Gray) on his blog that offers a preview of the sort of material we can expect to dominate next year’s campaign.

The most striking thing about the poster is its simplicity; could an equivalent be produced for the pro-AV campaign? The strengths of AV are that it eliminates the need for tactical voting and ensures that all MPs are elected with at least 50 per cent of the vote. But these virtues aren’t easily presented in poster form.

The most effective and simple argument for electoral reform, that it ensures fair votes, unfortunately doesn’t apply in this case, because AV can produce even less proportional outcomes than first-past-the-post. Thus, while the No campaign is already developing its attack lines, the Yes campaign has yet to settle on a coherent or consistent argument for AV.

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With public support for FPTP (38 per cent) ahead of that for AV (37 per cent) for the first time in months, supporters of electoral reform need to think carefully about how to sell this change to the voters.

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