Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

John Humphrys makes the case for voting No to AV

Is AV too complex? Ask John Humphrys, who unwittingly made the case against switching system today, in conversation with David Cameron on the Today programme. It became clear that Humphrys believed that everyone’s second preference vote would be counted under AV — and Cameron pounced. Here’s the transcript:

DC: If you go to an AV system you start counting some people’s votes more than once. And you end up, in the words of Churchill…
JH: No you don’t. It simply isn’t true that you count votes more than once.
DC: Yes, you count all the votes. You start eliminating candidates, and you count people’s second preferences.
JH: And I have a second preference, as well as you, as well as anyone else. So you don’t count some people’s votes more than others. [laughing gently at absurdity of proposition]
DC: Actually, John, you’re wrong. completely wrong. That is not the way it works. It’s complicated…
JH: No it’s isn’t! It’s terribly simple.
DC: If you vote for a Labour candidate and I vote for a Monster Raving Looney candidate and he comes last…
JH: He drops out! Monster Raving Looney has gone.
DC: And my second preference vote is counted
JH: So is mine!
DC: It isn’t! It isn’t! That’s where you’re wrong, That’s quite worrying if the lead broadcaster on the BBC doesn’t understand the system.
JH: It’s even more worrying that the Prime Minister is scaring people…
DC: You don’t understand the system that you’re meant to be explaining to the public. Back to school.
JH: I’ll go back to school and I’ll choose my teacher.

DC: Why would you want to give up [FPTP] to adopt a voting system that’s only used by three countries in the world?
JH: As opposed to a voting system that’s used by no other major democracy…
DC: Try America.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in