AV and the Electoral Reform Society

By Winston Smith, Ministry of Truth

I'm Winston Smith, editor at the Records Department at the Ministry of Truth. You may remember me from Orwell's classic novel 1984 when I was reconstructing the past by doctoring statistics, changing stories in back issues of The Times and eradicating references to unpersons. I thought you would be interested in a recent reconstruction I preformed concerning the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) website.

Now, I must have got the request at the Records Department sometime last summer. The order was delivered in our usual jargon: ers website av section ungood refs drawbacks rewrite plusgood.

ERS Web Page 2008

In Oldspeak it says "The Electoral Reform Society website is unsatisfactory as its page on the Alternative Vote mentions its drawbacks. Rewrite it in full making sure the Alternative Vote comes across positively." Nothing out of the ordinary. I dialled 'back numbers' on my Wayback Machine and retrived the AV section on the ERS website from 2008, right. You can do the same via your telescreen too - click here. It's unfastget - I mean to say, it's an extremely slow download - so read on first.

At the end of the first part, in a section called 'What is the Alternative Vote?', the ERS website stated in 2008: "AV is thus not a proportional system, and can in fact be more disproportional than FPTP." Yes, it actually said that and with that emphasis. What would plusreal reformers think? I thought to myself as I deleted it doublefastsec. The next section was about alternative names and implementations of the Alternative Vote. Who cares about these, for Big Brother's sake? So I moved up the section titled 'Arguments Used In Support of AV' and renamed it 'The case for AV' and made a few tweaks.

Next came the offending section 'Arguments Used Against AV'. Haven't they heard there's going to be a referendum on this? Section deleted - you won't see it on the ERS website today. The last section was 'ERS Policy On AV'. It stated: "The Electoral Reform Society regards AV as the best voting system when a single position is being elected." Fine, but when I read the next line I nearly swallowed my speakwrite. "However, as AV is not a proportional system, the Society does not regard it as suitable for the election of a representative body, e.g. a parliament, council, committees, etc." The ERS doesn't regard AV as suitable for Parliamentary elections! In all my time at the Ministry of Truth I had never seen such thoughtcrime. I shudder to think what would happen if deputyBB found out. I was actually trembling as I deleted it. The first line could stay - as we use single constituencies in Parliamentary elections it implied AV was the best system to use.

But surely the ERS thought AV would be OK for Parliamentary elections? So I downloaded an ERS report into the 2005 election. But there it was again: "AV would do little to restore the legitimacy of government... it would not produce fairer representation... A more proportional system is therefore the only answer to the major defects of First Past the Post." So I enlisted Comrade Tillotson in the next cubicle to write three new reports: What is AV, Why AV and AV FAQ. We got a member of the Anti-Sex League to, well, sex them up with some nice graphics and created a new look for the site. And that was it. All done by the time the clocks were striking thirteen...