This post is part of a series on The Atlernative Vote Referendum on May 5th.
Our nation is in a “time of austerity”, goes the argument, so we can’t afford £250m to reform our electoral system, especially when we have to make cuts to things like maternity provision or flak jackets for soldiers.
There are several problems with this:
- It won’t cost £250m – part of the £250m figure is made up of the cost of the referendum itself (£80-£100m). Voting “No” won’t get that money back. About £130m is factored in to pay for electronic voting machines, which AV supporters have said won’t be needed. It’ll cost a little more each time, but not much, especially compared to the £600 Billion UK budget.
- Austerity is for the “little people” – We seem to have been able to fund pretty much anything we want when it suits the elite, such as banking bailouts or tax breaks to corporations.
- We were miserly during the good years – We went to war in Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003. Even during those economically “good years”, we still had the situation where soldiers had to buy their own kit. Do you really think the pittance saved in keeping a broken electoral system will really be spent on hospitals, schools or soldiers?
- What price democracy? – We’re rightly proud of our democracy. Elections cost money, even under First Past the Post. Should we save money and scrap elections altogether?
We need hospitals, schools and kit for the troops, as well as a fairer system that makes our government more accountable to the population as a whole and not just big business.