Friday, 11 February 2011

A moron's view on FPTP being better

We have a grade A, top class idiot working the #no2av ranks at the moment. Find him on Twitter at @DBirkin. He's been pretty consistently irked by me for a while, and decided to delete my comment for being too "childish and insulting", despite being quite toned down by comparison to my remake below.

His comment that I replied to...with comments below each point. I can be as childish and insulting as I want here thankfully! You may need to go to his site to get the context for each numbered point. Though beware, who knows what he'll change to try and save face in the future.

1. Yes people can do that, but they will be disadvataged because most will vote the AV way.

No 2 AV, along with Mr @DBirkin, are all over the place. On Twitter right now they're trying to use the rather measured opinion of one Guardian journalist, who claims AV *might* not be used much more differently to FPTP (with no proof other than a completely different country, that he doesn't even really try to claim is proof), to state most will vote the FPTP way. @DBirkin says opposite. Each day is a delight with the No 2 AV crowd. Will AV be more proportional, or less proportional? Will AV lead to coalitions or will it make stronger majorities? You name an argument and I can guarantee that No 2 AV will manage to argue themselves out of it making any sense!

2. No, quite clearly only the eliminated get to vote again the DB way, i should know, I came up with it.

@DBirkin is a moron that can't understand how his own analogies either don't work, fail to prove his point or actually disprove his point. This is one of those that fails to prove his point as he plays semantic acrobatics.

AV = everyone getting a vote, and that vote being transfered round by round until there's a winner.
DB way = everyone gets a vote, then after each round those that are eliminated get another vote to put against the remaining candidates.

He honestly thinks this proves that AV is a system that is one that counts multiple votes for some while only 1 for others. Like I said, moron.

In AV, you have one vote no matter who you are, it's a single action (a vote) and it's reallocated based on who's in and out. It's counted every round...regardless of if it moves to someone else or not, it's counted every round.

In DB way you may have multiple votes, but every round each vote is counted exactly the same, whether it is a new vote or an old vote. Everyones vote is counted every round.

It's not just the result that is the same, it's the whole method of deciding who's won or not. Quibble semantic bollocks all you like about how many "votes" there are, the fact remains that under AV everyones opinion in each round is taken exactly the same amount of times as anyone else voting.

I mean...I'm amazed I even have to spell this out. It's the reason that despite perhaps being a little insulting to poor old @DBirkin, I feel justified...because he is a cretin and hours worth of otherwise polite reasoning doesn't get these simple and basic concepts in to his head.

3. This is true, FPTP assumes everyone's endorsement is their endorsement. So there is a margin of error there. Now compound this by taking away candidates and asking them to do it again...and again and each round gets worse for accuracy.

Maths failure, as if that's a surprise with "1+0 = 0" @DBirkin. A margin of error goes both ways, it could mean that in each successive round the amount people support the candidate they vote for grows relatively to others that remain voting for their first choice.

The fact is you can't measure it either way, the voting system doesn't want to measure it, to introduce this as an argument is to both undermine the legitimacy of FPTP, and to ignore the potential for making AV more legitimate than FPTP on the issue of having a candidate who's voters care about them more. Simply put it's mathematically unprovable to make the statements @DBirkin makes, but we know he'll go and make them anyway because it suits him to be a misleading shit.

4)More opinions are taken into account..from the same 35% of people, which slants the result more than if you only asked everyone for one opinion.

So it slants the result towards being more representative then, doesn't it. I've analogised the hell out of this point, but if you ask everyone their view you have a simplistic view of what the majority is. In 100% of the cases asking the voters of failed candidates to move their vote to someone still remaining further ensures that the winner is endorsed by the voting population. There is not a single situation under which FPTP can show us more accurately who the popular candidate is without relying on pure chance.

So yes, it slants the result, to make it demonstrably more representative, 100% of the time.

5)Its not perdantic. Just because someone didn't pick one of two candidates from a starting line of 8-12 ish, doesn't mean they don't count as voters.
If the only way to get a high percentage is to eliminate people so they are no longer voters, how does that make it better?

It's an entirely pedantic point to try and claim that 50% in the final round isn't the same as 50% of voters (and vice versa). The reality is that under FPTP if you spoil your ballot your vote isn't counted. It's recorded, but the fact you are saying "I don't want a candidate, this is a protest", or a mistake in some cases, means it's not a vote.

Under AV, you have the opportunity of taking that route if the public opinion goes such a way that you can't be bothered about who's elected, you'd rather have neither. Your preferences are recorded up to that point, but if the final two candidates are people you've not preferenced then you are essentially choosing to spoil your ballot late in the process. At that point your vote doesn't count in the result. You know this, you don't care, otherwise you'd have put down a full preference list.

It's not that you don't count if this happens, it's just that you don't count as part of the electorate (who are people that put a valid vote for a candidate in all rounds up until and including the final round counted, which under FPTP is the only round of course).

Like I say, pedantic, but it just generally annoys me that we're in a situation where we can say an MP got over 50% of the votes under FPTP, but this is based on data that doesn't include spoiled ballots. It's hypocrisy to talk about a term but change the definition of it halfway to suit your argument.

6)I agree, PR is not involved here, though 1/4 is not good odds and it would be niave to suggest different electoral systems can not favour PR without being PR.

@DBirkin here doing the fantastical and trying to claim that there is "form" in electoral systems where boundaries, seats, candidates and political opinion all change, that mean we can put "odds" on a future result being a certain way!

Now, if we were 3 months from an election, with opinion polls, especially regionals, I'd agree with him. We could confidently stand there and talk about we'd have the information.

How he uses odds is moronic though. It is akin to saying that we know Manchester United will win the premiership next season (or at least that they are favourites) based on this seasons results despite them going on to lose their number 1 and 2 goalkeepers, cutting back their training schedule, and sack their manager...all things that we both a) wouldn't know was coming and b) would render previous form factors irrelevant and useless.

7) Obviously you cannot prove something which hasn't happened yet, so you're asking the impossible. However we can predict. Any system which is said to encourage more people to stand for election will from time to time elect those people. (otherwise they wouldn't stand). In which case the big two's MP count goes down...coalitions.

@DBirkin claims that AV would lead to more coalitions, I explain the multitude of factors that would make that likely or not...factors we don't know...and this is his response? And he doesn't skip a beat before essentially accepting he's absolutely wrong? Oh, wait, he's weaseling too with his absolutely fundamental lack of mathematical skills.

More candidates = more variety of results all the time? Really? Funny, you see under FPTP I can see that being a possibility. The greatly reduced threshold for winning that happens every time a credible candidate comes along and splits the's very feasible for greater varieties of MPs to be elected at low (non-existent in representative terms) mandates.

With AV those extra candidates don't mean anything unless they're one of the 2 or 3 most popular. To clarify... AV means that you can have many many more candidates involved, but no matter how many you add the 2 or 3 most popular will never be under threat of losing their rightful seat.

8)I am not saying all policies are enacted under fptp, but atleast you know their rough policies. Under AV you will not even know that.

@DBirkin swerves the point masterfully! The point was that a claim was made that AV would mean politicians dilute their policies. Aside from this argument being absolutely moronic in a democratic view (Yes, politicians will offer things that the public wants them to do..shock horror!), it is also completely applicable to FPTP (Tories saying they had no plans for VAT?).

But then we swerve in to this. AV we won't know policies? Well again, Tories tried to make out they wouldn't increase VAT, the Lib Dems tried to make out they would not raise tuition fees, god knows Labour must have made some claim it wouldn't keep (like not introducing tuition fees, giving us a referendum on the voting system...etc..etc).

The system currently has politicians lying left right and center, as they only need to convince a small percentage of swing voters to move their vote, and after that it doesn't really matter any more. Under AV the numbers you need to convince to support you, across preferences, mean there will be much greater pressure to follow up what they claim. There is also no proof whatsoever that AV would lead to politicians all coming out with the same/similar manifestos.


Does this look like I'm "running out of arguments"? Of course not. I may be crass at times, insulting, maybe childish...but perhaps that's because I feel I need to self-sabotage myself given how damn clear the arguments against dross like the above is, and it doesn't feel like a fair fight otherwise?