Would AV have made little difference?

by Chris Bertram on May 11, 2010

Some of the British papers are giving publicity to an analysis by the Electoral Reform Society purporting to show that the Alternative Vote system (which Labour is offering to the Lib Dems now, and the Tories are offering a referendum on) would have made little difference. Specifically, the claim is that actual result of 307/258/57/28 (C/L/LD/Oth) would translate as 281/262/79/28 (with STV giving you 246/207/162/35). But this is a completely static analysis, since it presupposes that matters like candidate selection would stay the same under both systems. This is surely wrong: under AV, the main parties would have an incentive to select candidates who would appeal as the second choice of the eliminated parties. This would often mean a convergence to the centre (on the assumption that the Lib Dems stay third, which they might not) but it might mean the selection of Tory candidates who would get the votes of eliminated UKIPers.

Educational Equality

by Harry on May 11, 2010

Continuum has just published Educational Equality (UK) which is composed of a lead essay written by yours truly, with commentary by James Tooley and Ken Howe, and really nice clear bookends in the form of an informative introduction and a concluding analysis by my excellent former colleague Graham Haydon. The main essay is a revision of a pamphlet I wrote more than 10 years ago for the IMPACT series put out by the PESGB. The original was focused on criticizing the then-still-newish system of parental choice in the UK, and the selection that it resulted in, within the context of a philosophical argument in favour of a particular principle of educational equality. The new book is in a series which reprint the IMPACT pamphlets with commentaries, but when I was approached to do that I felt that my philosophical views had changed quite a bit (largely in the context of the long collaboration with Swift), that the policy context had changed quite a bit, and that I could say something useful about the US as well — so the revised essay is quite a bit different from the original. Tooley criticises sort of from the right, Howe from the left (that package gives the not-entirely-accurate impression that somehow what I have to say belongs to the centre); I like both their essays (which I have only just seen). It is short (maybe 30k words) and accessible to students and the general public (it is being marketed as a textbook): and I, at least, think that there is enough about both the US and the UK that parochial readers in each country should not feel shortchanged, while cosmopolitan readers can learn something new. This is the second book I’ve been involved in publishing this year (see this announcement) — and the last, I promise.

While we wait for the dust to settle following the 2010 election, I thought I’d repost this piece from the aftermath of 2005, suggesting that Labour should introduce electoral reform. My predictive record is a mixed one, but this piece looks pretty good, I think.
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