The secret financial interests behind Yes to AVPosted on February 2, 2011
I’ve blogged in the past about the dubious sources of funding coming to the Yes to AV campaign. Now a special investigation by the Spectator‘s Ed Howker has exposed the way the Electoral Reform Society – which provides the majority of the Yes campaign’s resources – has not only tried to cover up its true levels of donation to the campaign but stands to benefit financially if AV is introduced.
The ERS is the major shareholder in Electoral Reform Services Limited (ERSL), the main vendor of ballot papers, ballot counting and electric counting machines in the UK. In their own words, “There is almost no aspect of our democracy ERSL’s services do not touch” and they have just been awarded the contract for counting machines for the London Mayoral election.
As ERSL’s own internal documents admit, there is a distinct possibility “that ERSL will profit as a result of a YES vote (increased business opportunities).” Given their massive and successful marketing efforts already, it seems clear they will seek to do so – and if they do, then their shareholder the ERS will do so too through its hefty dividends.
Put against that background, we now have an explanation as to why the Electoral Reform Society used to oppose AV strongly – even to the extent of saying “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” – but mysteriously deleted that section of their website, as documented here. It seems that as soon as the prospect of “increased business opportunities” hove into view, they swiftly ditched their supposed principles and started backing the AV horse.
The Spectator investigation is an absolutely must-read piece – and utterly dispels the so-called “Yes to Fairer Votes” campaign’s claims to be a pure-hearted gang of principled campaigners. Amusingly, according to ERSL’s website, the Electoral Reform Society “has sought to raise the standards of probity and honesty involved with ballots”. On this occasion they’ve let that standard down and utterly blackened their name.
Tags: AV, AV Referendum, Counting Machines, Ed Howker, Electoral Reform Services Limited, Electoral Reform Society, No2AV, opinion, Politics, Preferential Voting, Referendum, The Spectator, Yes to Fairer Votes, Yes2AV