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I don't have terribly strong views on the alternative-vote
referendum that Britain holds this week. But I found this radio exchange on the BBC between John
Humphreys and the prime minister, David Cameron, remarkable. If
even Humphreys does not know how the system would allow the second
votes of extremists to be counted more than those of moderates (and
he clearly does not), then it does not sound like a comprehensible
DC: "...you start counting some people's votes more than
JH: "No, you don't. That simply isn't true, that you
count some votes more than once."
DC: "Yes, you do. You count all the votes, and then you
start eliminating candidates and then you count people's second
JH: "And I have a second preference as well as you or
anybody else and you count them again as well, so you don't count
some people's votes more than others."
DC: "You are completely wrong. That's not the way it
works. It's complicated."
JH: "No, it isn't, it's terribly simple."
DC: "You are wrong. If you vote for the Labour
candidate and I vote for the Monster Raving Loony candidate and the
Monster Raving Loony comes last, my second preference is then
JH: "So is mine."
DC: "No, it isn't. That's where you are wrong. It is
quite worrying if actually the lead broadcaster on the BBC doesn't
understand the system. You don't understand the system you are
supposed to be explaining to the public. I do think that's
worrying. Back to school."
JH: "I will go back to school, and I will choose my