On “’AVing a beer”


So, polls have closed, and what’s done is done.  We will find out later whether the UK will be adopting the AV system or not.

Whilst we all wait with baited breath, I thought I would pass comment on this “Yes to AV” poster I encountered yesterday.  I’d already voted by this point, but suffice to say it didn’t sway my decision.

At first glance, the logic of this poster may seem sound.  If there was a group of people casting votes on where they were all going to go and socialise, applying the First Past the Post (FPTP) system would have resulted in them going for coffee (in this scenario in which there are four pubs and one coffee shop).  Arguably though, if going for coffee is a bad thing, the flaw here is not necessarily the voting system but the question which was asked.  Personally I would have started by asking “coffee or beer?” 

Nonetheless, let’s bear with these people and look at what could have happened if they had adopted an AV system for choosing their social activity.  It is probable that equal numbers of people would have chosen two different pubs, or a pub and the coffee shop.  So whereas more people might enjoy their drink and venue of choice, it defeats the point of having a group social if folk go to different places.  And even if there was a consensus on a single venue, the number of people who didn’t get their first choice would still be very high – after all, it is only the voting system, and not the opinion of others, which has been changed.

I also think that there is an interesting underlying issue here, and that is the idea of being very self centred and prioritising one’s own individual views at the expense of what is actually best.  Personally, if I am going for a beer, I prefer to enjoy it with friends than sipping it alone in the corner of my favourite bar…




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