Last month, I was the guest speaker at the Hackney Liberal Democrats’ AGM. At the end of the meeting, a man from the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign was given a bit of air time. He didn’t give lists of reasons for voting AV. Nor did he spout statistics. He told a simple story about his time in NUS. The point was, when he went to lobby MPs, those with safe seats were much less likely to give he and his colleagues the time of day. I’m sure that his story made an impact on those present.
Since then, I’ve come across this video – Ralph’s story - on the Yes to Fairer Votes website. Ralph, a decorated World War II navy veteran, tells us how he and members of his members fought in various wars,
“for what? For democracy”
“I’ve voted in every election for 64 years but my votes have been confiscated by the system.”
Ralph’s story works because it passes Anecdote’s tests for a story with impact. In particular, his story packs an emotional punch. Wait till you get to this:
“For all the say I’ve had, I might as well have died on the D-day beaches or on the Russian convoys or in the Pacific later on.”
“I hope that one day, before I pass away, I will have the privilege of casting a vote that counts for something [and] for once in my life, I’ll have my say.”
To some ears, Ralph’s story may sound too much like a case for proportional voting, which will not be on the ballot paper next May. But he makes the pitch for AV that is most likely to work with voters: the Alternative Vote would allow people to cast their first preference for the party they really supported without wasting their vote.
It looks as if someone has learnt the lessons from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, in which ordinary Americans told stories about why they were voting for him. And the Yes to Fairer Votes website somehow reminds me of Barack Obama’s effort.