Saturday, 30 April 2011

Strange bedfellows: Clarke and me campaigning on #AV

This pic was taken in Norwich, today. So that's a smiley #Yes2AV! From me and Charles...

Unique cross-party letter printed in today's EDP: Diverse Norfolk politicians backing #AV


 We are politicians from very different Parties and backgrounds, but we are strongly agreed on one thing: It is high time that the winds of change blew through British politics. If, like us, you think that our political system is broken, then we hope you will vote YES to fairer votes on May 5.

 Make no mistake about it: it is organisations such as the BNP and the Communist Party who are praying and campaigning for a NO vote, and desperately hoping that electoral reform is stopped in its tracks. If you think it is fine to let extremists win on a minority of the vote, then feel free to vote NO on May 5. But if you think that your MP should have a majority of the voters in their constituency behind them, then you should vote YES.

 Under our current system, most people have an MP that they didn't vote for. More than 2/3 of MPs were elected with fewer than 50% of the vote.

 Too many MPs think that they have a job for life. Half of all seats have been in the same party's control since 1970. This can breed arrogance and complacency. When MPs take their constituents for granted, abuses of the system are more likely.

 AV gives more power to individual voters. It's not complicated. It's as easy as 1,2,3...

 THIS is our chance for electoral and political reform.

   Yours faithfully,

 Stuart Agnew MEP (UKIP), Ian Gibson (former MP for Norwich North), Norman Lamb MP (LibDem, North Norfolk), C'llr. Adrian Ramsay (Deputy Leader, the Green Party of England and Wales), C'llr. Rupert Read (Co-ordinator, East of England Green Party), Simon Wright MP (LibDem, Norwich South).

'Man and wife'?! - BBC takes us back to the 1950s...

A BBC reporter on 2pm news on Saturday Ap.30 [just now] on Radio 4 spoke of William and Kate as 'Man and wife'. It's official then: women are appendages. Feminism never happened. She promised to 'obey' him... Oh wait: she didn't. This was BBC spin. Pure and simple.
This was an utterly inappropriate turn of phrase. I can barely believe that it occured.
Women and all decent-minded people living in the 21st century will know that the Beeb are even more conservative than the new Duchess of Cambridge - unless this gets apologised for.

Friday, 29 April 2011

World's best #AV explainer:


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Green, UKIP, Lab, Lib - the alternative #Yes2AV 'coalition'

+++Nigel Farage and Caroline Lucas joins cross party #Yes2AV event+++

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage joined with Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP, Alan Johnson MP and Tim Farron yesterday morning at a press conference, calling for a Yes vote on May 5th.  Mr Farage and Ms. Lucas warned that the First Past the Post system was "alienating a whole generation of voters" and called on people to make the positive case for reform in the final week of the campaign.


BBC - AV referendum: 'Real dilemma' for Labour says Johnson:

++News Links:

Labour Yes - Wipe the Smile off Cameron's Face. Vote Yes:

BBC Newsnight AV Special:

Guardian - Jonathan Freedland: AV: a crucial 'baby step' if we are to break Britain's electoral reform taboo:

Guardian - Say yes to AV at referendum to hurt Tories, Labour tells supporters:

Independent - Yes camp rules out use of costly counting machines:

Mirror - Vote Yes for AV:

Mirror - Lib Dems could demand AV re-run:

Political Betting - Can the Labour YES poster help turn it round?

Amelia's Magazine - Voting Reform: An interview with Amisha Ghadiali:

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I don't agree with Nick: So I'm voting #Yes2AV

My letter, printed in today's INDY:


Andrew Grice (Inside Westminster, 23 April) recycles the conventional wisdom that the introduction of #AV will benefit the Lib Dems. But no one knows what effect AV will have on the Lib Dems.

This is because AV, by eliminating tactical voting attributed to the "wasted vote" argument, changes first-preference voting behaviour too. So it is entirely possible that, where Lib Dems currently win seats, they may do worse under AV, because voters who currently lend them their "tactical votes" will no longer do so.

One thing we know for sure about AV, from the Australian experience, is that AV is terrible news for extremist and racist parties, which probably explains why the BNP are vigorously arguing for a No vote on 5 May. This is because racists virtually never win a majority at the ballot box – and a majority, not merely a plurality, of the votes is what one needs to win, under AV.

So it is quite likely that the Lib Dems, quite widely disparaged now, would, under AV, suffer, just as the BNP would. It is quite possible that many angry voters would leave them off their preference lists altogether. If one wants not only to wipe the smile off Nick Griffin's face, but also to punish Nick Clegg and his "betrayal" in a really clever way, the best way of doing so is to vote Yes, on 5 May.

Cllr Rupert Read



<a href="">Vote #Yes2AV </a>  | <a href="">Alternative Vote</a> | <a href="">Yes 2 AV</a>

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The X-Factor analogy for #AV

Excerpt from a TIMES article: Bucks Fizz can help you make your mind up about AV
(By Dr. Alan Renwick, Reading University)

Unless you’re an election junkie like me, you’re probably either bamboozled or bored (or both) by the debate over AV. Most people get the basics that under AV you can rank the candidates. But then how are these preferences counted? Does AV give some voters extra votes? Is the weight that AV gives to lower preferences fair?

Thankfully, most of us know more about voting systems than we realise: we’re used to them from The Eurovision Song Contest, The X Factor, even figure skating and a host of other non-political contests.

To see the basic case for AV, look at the difference between Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor. BGT uses first-past-the-post, the current Westminster system. There are ten contestants in the final; whoever gets most votes wins. The trouble is that if votes are widely spread across the contestants, victory could be secured on little more than a tenth of the vote. Diversity beat Susan Boyle in 2009 even though the dance group won less than a quarter of the vote. Someone with a small but committed following could win, even if the rest of the country despises them.

The X Factor avoids this: after each round, the singer coming last is kicked out. Eventually only two remain and the winner has majority support. AV achieves basically the same without requiring us all to traipse back to the polls each week. With your first preference you say whom you want to win. Your second preference says whom you want to win if your top pick gets the boot and so on. You can’t change your mind under AV, as you can in The X Factor, but otherwise the logic is the same.

The anti-AV people claim that AV gives some voters extra votes. The X Factor shows why that’s wrong. Matt Cardle’s supporters got to vote for him each week. They had just as many votes as the people who switched from loser to loser to loser. In AV too, if your first preference stays in the race, your vote for him or her is counted once in each round, just as it is if your vote is transferred from your first to your second to your third preference.

What about the claim that AV gives too much weight to lower preferences? To get a handle on this, cast your mind forward to the glitterfest of Eurovision, coming a week after the referendum. In Eurovision, each country ranks its top ten acts. The first gets 12 points, the second 10 and so on. The winner is the act with most points. That means that preferences are weighted: lower preferences give fewer points than higher ones. But these always count, which means that you could scupper your favourite act’s chances by giving ten points to your second favourite.

In AV, by contrast, lower preferences have the same weight as higher preferences — but only if they are counted. Your second preference is counted only if your first choice has been excluded. It’s like first counting only the 12s. Only if no candidate has a majority of the 12s do you eliminate the act with fewest 12s and count instead the second preferences of their supporters.

Look at Britain’s great triumph of 1981, when Europe made its mind up for Bucks Fizz. Defenders of great British traditions should be aware that we would have lost under first-past- the-post: Bucks Fizz gained only two 12s, tying for fourth place behind Switzerland, France and Germany. They won because they secured lots of eights and tens and because Eurovision counts these lower preferences. But they would have lost under AV too: with so few first preferences, we would have been eliminated before our deep well of middling support could have been tapped. So AV does give special weight to first preferences: you need a decent number of them to stay in the game in the early rounds of counting.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Easy as 1, 2, 3 - new genius video for #Yes2AV !

The Jackson 5 call for #Yes2AV vote! ;-)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Letter from a Japanese friend:

A terrible warning from the nuclear frontline. A call to act, to we who may yet sleepwalk into nuclear madness:
Thank you very much for your concern for our well being and lives after the
disaster in Japan one month ago.
The Tokyo area, where I live, has not been so much affected so far,
but, as you read in news articles or see on TV news in your countries, people
from the easternmost areas, in particular, those areas directly affected
by the tsunami and the nuclear power plant devastation, have been forced to
lead a very hard life.  (As of the 15th of April, the death toll has risen to
more than 13,000, and the missing to more than 15,000. Also,
about 130,000 people still continue to live at shelters.)
I also would like to draw your attention to what happened (due) to the nuclear
power plant in Fukushima.  The Japanese government and the Electric
Power Companies all over the country have been promoting nuclear power
for decades. (We now have 18 plants and 55 reactors in this very vulnerable
soil -- and two more reactors are under construction, and still eleven more
are planned; they currently provide about 30 percent of  the electrical power in
Japan.)  The Japanese government and the Electric Power Companies have been
saying that nuclear power is clean and safe.  However, as you can see, it has turned
out that it is neither clean nor safe. Whether this magnitude of disaster was predictable
or unpredictable is not the point; it has happened.  As you also know, a substantial
amount of radioactive materials have been emitted into the atmosphere and the sea.
Furthermore, what we have been witnessing is the destruction of many
people's ordinary lives.  A substantial number (presumably, tens of thousands) of
people were, and will be, forced to evacuate from the affected areas, because of the
air contamination (and it is reported that the soil there may also be contaminated),
and those people do not even know when they can return to their own homes.
Not only this; some people would not be able to evacuate because they need to
take care of a family member who cannot move, or domestic animals, their important
life resources.  Also, many workers remain in the extremely dangerous condition to
prevent the worst results for the surrounding area and our country.  I would
appreciate it if you would voice your thoughts about nuclear power in your countries,
in those dependent on nuclear power in particular.
I think we have some alternatives
to such a dangerous source, including changing our lifestyles a bit -- from being too
dependent on electricity.
Please forward this message to anybody who may be interested.
Thank you very much again.
Very truly,
Aug Nishizaka

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why the BNP are voting NO. This vid debunking #No2AV lies about #FPTP, #AV and extremism is crucial! Do watch - and then share widely...
This video will help you to understand why the BNP want you to vote No to AV on May 5, while Operation Black Vote want you to vote Yes. It will explain why Simon Darby, Vice-Chair of the BNP, recently said that

"We are never going to get our feet under the table under the AV system."

Please watch the video, and then forward the email to all your friends / share the link on Twitter or Facebook.

We've got just 2 weeks left now, to change our electoral system for the better - or to be shafted by the Tories, the BNP and the right-wing press, who will be the ones gloating if Britain votes NO on May 5.

Let's make it YES, instead...

<a href="">Vote #Yes2AV </a>  | <a href="">Alternative Vote</a> | <a href="">Yes 2 AV</a>

Monday, 18 April 2011

Say 'YES!' To Fairer Votes on 5 May

Labels: ,

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Please pledge for #Norwich!

#GreenParty needs your promise! 
Funds for this will help us once again move forward on May 5 - can you assist?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Why Griffin is voting #No2AV

Say YES on May 5th

Sunday, 10 April 2011

House of Lords result: Green Party picks its candidates

Remarkably, I beat one of the panel's chosen 'top 5' on 1st preferences. An unprecedented achievement in Green Party Lords candidate-selection contests.

Irritatingly, I then apparently slipped narrowly below him on transfers... Boo to AV. Bring back FPTP! ;-) [Just joking, obviously -- if one lives by AV, then sometimes one will suffer from it, too... That's democracy.]

Thanks so much to all those who supported me, and congratulations to my fellow 6 'selected' candidates. If the Coalition stick to their word (Don't hold your breath! (Would you buy a 2nd-hand car from Nick Clegg?)), we 7 will become Lords...:Here's the relevant passage from the Coalition agreement:

"We will establish a committee to bring
forward proposals for a wholly or mainly
elected upper-chamber on the basis of
proportional representation. The committee
will come forward with a draft motion by
December 2010 [Note: Obviously the timetable has slipped].
It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is
also likely that there will be a grandfathering
system for current Peers. In the interim,
Lords appointments will be made with the
objective of creating a second chamber that
is reflective of the share of the vote secured
by the political parties in the last general election."

(Page 27 of

In other words, the Coalition agreement COMMITTED the ConDems to giving (presumably) those Parties who won seats at the 2010 election a proportional number of seats in the Lords, up to the time when House of Lords reform occurs. THIS WOULD MEAN THAT THE GREEN PARTY SHOULD GET 7 SEATS.

[AT PRESENT, WE HAVE ZERO. Note: Given that, presumably, only Parties elected to the Commons will count, so there won't be any Lords seats, on this basis, for UKIP nor for the BNP, etc.]

Here are the final results; Counted: 8/9 April 2011:

1. Jenny JONES
2. Emma DIXON
4. Shahrar ALI
6. Rupert READ
1st reserve: Jessica GOLDFINCH
2nd reserve: Rebecca JOHNSON
3rd reserve: Stuart JEFFERY

Here are the candidates' 1st preferences:

Jenny JONES 692
Emma DIXON 439
Shahrar ALI 328
Rupert READ 202
Jessica GOLDFINCH 94
Rebecca JOHNSON 72
Larry SANDERS 50
David AHERNE 49
Stuart JEFFERY 46
Nic BEST 44
Hazel DAWE 31
Tony SLADE 27
Stephen PLOWDEN 19

Re-Open Nominations 27

Total Valid Vote 2,713

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Yes: #AV IS a 'moral crusade'

Great #Greenwordsworkshop -ish stuff here: Fantastic from our reframing point of view:


Alternative Vote backed by senior Church of England bishops

Supporters of electoral reform laud bishops' intervention but NO campaign warns against turning referendum into 'moral crusade'.

...Yes: It's immoral to perpetuate a blatantly undemocratic system like FPTP.



Clarity begins at home: An open letter to Labour NO.

If AV is a good enough system with which to elect the Labour Leader (and Ed M. wouldn't have become Lab Leader without it), isn't it a good enough system with which to select our MPs? Here's a real challenge for Labour NO supporters: Put your money where your mouth is, and if you are so against AV, then propose that future Lab Leadership elections take place by FPTP...
And what a bad joke that would be, were it to happen, and were Labour members to have to decide whether (to take the example of the Leadership election we have just had) to 'tactically vote' or not. E.g. Diane Abbott supporters would have had to decide whether or not to abandon her and just vote straight for Ed, without being able to vote for who they really wanted, or whether to risk David winning...
I put it to you, everyone in Labour NO, that this thought experiment pretty thoroughly demolishes the case for a NO vote on May 5. It is clear that FPTP is a broken system, in multi-Party / multi-candidate contests. It really is quite hopeless, to try to defend it, outside of a 2-Party system context.
Clarity begins at home. If you are so clear in your own minds that AV is a bad system, you need to draw the logical conclusion: you need to get rid of it for your own internal elections. That I hear no-one proposing to do so speaks volumes to me: in your hearts, you know that AV is a better system than FPTP for a modern plural democracy.
So join us: There's still time! Declare for a YES vote on May 5.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Winning the AV debate: A straw in the wind

Just debated John Flack, at a Sixth Form in Wymondham, who like me narrowly missed being elected to the Euro-Parl in 2009 (in his case, for the Tories). He is Regional Head of No2AV here in the East. Before the debate: 20 in favour of Yes, 40 against, 26 undecided. :-(   After the debate, 44 in favour, 42 against. :-)  A hopeful straw in the wind? If we get our arguments right, YES people, we can WIN. 

I suspect that crucial to my success was hammering away with the fact that 'If you want Nick Griffin to wake up with a big smile on his face on May 6, then you need to vote NO', and explaining clearly why the BNP were campaigning for a No vote. (Incredibly, Flack genuinely seemed unaware that the BNP were on the No side! As were most of those in the room, before I informe them.) But also crucial was being positive: calling for those in the room to lead the way for Britain to get a new voting system fit for the 21st century, for for a multi-party political system. One student nicely responded to Flack's schtick about AV only being used by 3 countries by saying that if that kind of argument had been used in 1832 (and of course it was!) then the Great Reform Act would never have been passed into law... I argued passionately that AV was the next step forward toward a truer democracy...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Gaddafi IS a loon

It turns out that #Gaddafi IS a mad dog. Read his mind-blowing and stomach-turning letter to Obama:
Utterly incredible - but the letter is authentic.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The BNP want you to vote NO to AV on May 5 - Find out why a YES vote will help stop extremists.

Caroline Lucas speaking for a AV and for a Green vote in local elections at UEA, Norwich.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Greens overtaking LibDems...

Caroline Lucas, on the WESTMINSTER HOUR this weekend: "I’ve taken great comfort from looking at the opinion polls coming out of Scotland at the moment, which show the Greens overtaking the Lib Dems; that is exactly the

direction I think we’re likely to be going in. We’ve got the Scottish Parliament elections coming up, as I say, on two polls now Greens have been ahead of the Lib Dems, and it’s very much our strategy to replace the Lib Dems as the third party in British politics." 

Way to go!

My letter in the TELEGRAPH:

Libya is no Iraq


SIR – I am disappointed that so few British people are backing Britain’s stance on Libya.

The Iraq attack has clearly cast a long and terrible shadow over the world in general and our foreign policy in particular. What a pity that so many people seem to be unable to take seriously the thought that maybe the UN intervention in Libya is on balance a good thing, because before their eyes is always the image of the quagmire, the illegality and the lies of Iraq.

Libya is utterly different from Iraq. It is a legal exemplification of the “responsibility to protect”, begun in response to an authentic uprising; whereas Iraq was an illegal war of aggression.

Dr Rupert Read
Philosophy Department
University of East Anglia, Norwich


Sunday, 3 April 2011

'Make it 50'? #Yes2AV fail...

In response to this impressive #GreenWordsWorkshop piece by my colleague Matt Wootton: ...
The deepest problem with 'Make it 50', I think, is this: We can't. Or at least, it doesn't feel as if we can; or we are very unlikely to.
A slogan needs to involve the listener, to make them think that there is a way that they can really be part of what is being called for. So, for instance, a slogan like "AV: The system to stop extremists" gives one the feeling that one can be part of the stopping of extremists by voting for AV. And one can, in the sense that if the AV referendum is passed then it will be easier to stop the BNP at the ballot box. But 'Make it 50' HIGHLIGHTS as central the actual numerical mechanism by means of which AV works. Not only is this cryptic and vague, it is techy/nerdy, and it focuses the listener's attention directly on the need to get to 50%. Which will for many hearers immediately lead on to the thought, "But my vote never makes the difference between whether someone gets to 50% or not" - especially in a nationwide referendum! So the slogan hardly inspires participation in the referendum, and, by focussing attention on what it takes for a candidate to win, rather than on WHY one should be voting for that candidate (or for that option in the referendum), it fails the most elementary tests imposed by Lakoff or Westen. It doesn't inspire, it doesn't have a values-component. It summons up futility, disempowerment, and perhaps even hopelessness - presumably, the diammetric opposite of what was intended by it.
What a missed opportunity.
For a better way forward, check out our #Yes2AV postcards at . If you like, do share!

Friday, 1 April 2011

#Yes2AV triumph in TV debate... ;-)

Go 8 minutes in to see the live debate: This debate between me and 3 MPs took place live on ITV last night: the subject is AV. . .
A victory for my side, I think! :-)

Our new #Yes2AV site's viral...

Come and check out what the fuss is about:

#Yes2AV postcards!

Have a read of my new piece on OPEN DEMOCRACY, breathing life into #Yes2AV's campaign...:
1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: April 2011 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.