Your print-out-and-throw-away guide to the AV referendum

Tomorrow Britain’s voters will flock to the polls in their dozens to cast their vote in the country’s historic referendum on the voting system to be used in future elections.

As one of the carrots used to lure Nick Clegg into a coalition government, the referendum will offer the British public the opportunity to decide whether a new Alternative Vote electoral system should replace the current First Past The Post system used to elect the country’s MP’s.

But the question on many some people’s lips is:  How does AV work?

Being that Britain is traditionally a nation of alcoholics we’ll use terms that everyone can understand to explain the Alternative Vote system.

It’s a lot more straightforward than everyone seems to think if you imagine AV as being like walking into your local pub at 5:05pm on a Friday afternoon.

You go up to the bar (polling station) knowing that you want to buy a pint of Tennents (vote Labour) just like you have for the last twenty years.

But then the bartender tells you that you can’t have a pint of Tennents (vote Labour) and instead offers you a pint of Stella Artois (Liberal Democrats).

You know that you quite enjoy a pint of Stella Artois (Liberal Democrats) but you don’t like it as much as your preferred choice, a pint of Tennents (Labour).

However, you really do not like Heineken (Conservatives) and so you decide that Stella Artois (Liberal Democrats) is your second preference.

But then after consulting with his stock, the bartender returns to you and tells you that because most of the customers in the bar who regularly drink pints of Tennents (vote Labour) have changed not to Stella Artois (Liberal Democrats) but instead have opted to drink pints of Heineken (vote Conservatives) you too will have to buy the drink that you really didn’t want to.

All of which means that by the end of the night you are drunk and are suffering the effects of the drink you really didn’t want in the first place (the party for which you didn’t want to vote.)


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