Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Yes 2 AV part three: top brass

One of the best arguments against voting No to AV or supporting No2AV is providing you with a list of the top brass in the campaign.

Matthew Elliott - Campaign Director
Elliott is the founder of the Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA), a right-wing pressure group which calls for tax cuts and spending cuts. (In spite of this a director of this group was outed as not paying British Tax nor living in the UK.) Therefore, it's a little bit ironic for the No2AV campaign to print false adverts which suggest that babies will die due to lack of hospital equipment if the Alternative Vote system is implemented.

Margaret Beckett - Campaign President
Labour has sections: the socialists in Old Labour, the Blairites in New Labour, the Miliband compromise in Next Labour, and the has-beens in Past Labour. Beckett falls firmly within the final category. Her purpose now appears to be to help in the fight to defend the status quo whilst serving as a back-bench MP. Her fellow prominent Labour No2AV helpers include John Prescott, John Reid, and John Falconer, who are all Labour patrons of the campaign.

Baron Rodney Leach - Campaign Chairman
Formerly the Deputy Chairman of Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Leach now resides in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer. He is also chairman of the Eurosceptic thinktank Open Europe, and was apparently the man who decided to appoint the TPA's Matthew Elliott as Chairman.

Charlotte Vere - Finance Director
Vere was the Conservatives' 2010 election candidate in the Brighton Pavillion constituency, where Caroline Lucas notably won the first seat for the Green Party. During the election, Vere was accused of committing a number of faux pas and being generally underhand in her campaigning methods. Her antics included: comparing the Green Party to the BNP and claiming that Caroline Lucas would raise taxes in Brighton if she became their MP (a power which MPs do not have). (More info on these claims here). Such dirty tactics can be seen being applied in the No2AV campaign too, including registering the www.yes2av.org domain name and redirecting the website to their own No2AV site. Moreover, the blog on their website has insulted Australian journalist Antony Green by saying he needs to "get his facts straight" and that he "doesn't know his home country...". Antony Green and others (including myself) have attempted to respond to No2AV's false article, but all comments which don't praise No2AV are censored and not published. On his own blog, Green has repeatedly debunked No2AV's disinformation about the Australian electoral system. Vere also makes such claims on her Twitter page that "there more safe seats in Australia under AV than there are in the UK". When I asked her to corroborate this with evidence, she initially did not respond. When I asked again, she told me to "check VoteNOtoAV's blog?", as if it should be obvious that the statistics I sought were published on another anti-AV blog and was being a moron for not knowing to look there. Having perused what I found there, I only saw one article related to her claim. Its source of evidence is a document commissioned by the Conservative-leaning Policy Exchange think-tank. Said document is titled 'The Alternative Vote - the system no-one wants', and the first page includes attempts to discredit AV by pointing out that it is used in few countries, etc. Having searched the document, I see the conclusion being drawn that AV doesn't tackle safe seats well and has not done so in Australia, but I see no claims that there are more safe seats in Australia nor a comparison between the UK and Australia. I suspect that if Vere had the source to back up her claim, she would have been able to link me straight to the specific place her factually-correct claim is sourced from. I'm open to being corrected, though, and would welcome with open arms a citation of the specific factual comparison.
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I can understand why you wouldn't get that excited about the AV referendum, and you may not even be a massive fan of the system, but I think it's worth voting yes just to say no to the nasty campaign methods of No2AV and the nasty people heading up the campaign.

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