It’s been an eventful week in referendumland. We got royal assent, and No to AV started on their most scandalous programme of deception yet.
Their lie of the week this week is
Our country can’t afford the Alternative Vote. Now, personally I find it deeply worrying that cost would even be a factor when considering democracy, but we’ll ignore that for a moment and examine the figures they’re presenting.
No to AV are claiming the move to AV would cost the taxpayer £250 million. Their figures break down as follows:
- £82 million for the cost of the referendum itself
- £9 million on voter education
- £130 million on electronic counting machines
- £26 million on further voter education should the referendum pass
Ignoring for a moment (again) how that doesn’t actually add up to £250 million, hopefully you’ve spotted by now that the first £91 million of that won’t actually be saved by voting no. No campaign spokesman Dan Hodges admitted as much to Next Left. It also doesn’t take account of the £17 million the government says will be saved by holding the referendum on the same day as other elections.
So what about the remaining £156 million No to AV claim actually could be saved? Maybe we should consider that. Oh no, wait. We already did. If you ever meet any No advocates, and they tell you that AV requires costly counting machines, you might like to ask them how the Australians managed in 1918! The Electoral Commission have said that they are looking at modernising the voting system, but the result of the AV referendum has not been a factor in their considerations. In fact, the notorious problems with voting machines in the US relate to first past the post elections.
So the only cost remaining is the somewhat mysterious figure of £26 million on
voter education. The £9 million figure from before the referendum seems to be derived from that quoted in parliament as Electoral Commission expenses. The Electoral Commission provides material explaining the electoral process before every election, so it’s unclear why No 2 AV think it would be an additional charge.
In short, No to AV’s claims are a flat out lie. Even the rabidly traditionalist Daily Telegraph admits it. I sincerely hope the electorate will see through the attempts to confuse, and instead vote on the issue: whether or not AV is an improvement on FPTP. Of course, it might be that No to AV would rather just not bother with elections at all. It would, after all, be cheaper.