|David Cameron, Tory Leader|
Photo by World Economic Forum
The UK, like the US, employs a first past the post voting system. This simply means that the candidate with the most votes wins. Unfortunately, it has a nasty side-effect of locking out smaller parties. For example, in the US, many people argued that a vote for Ralph Nader in the 2000 Presidential election was a vote for George Bush. First-past-the-post voting systems tend to produce stable, two-party governments and rarely allow other parties to gain a foothold.
|Ed Milliband, Labour Leader|
Photo by Off2riorob
In the UK papers, you find that left-leaning papers support the AV vote while right-wing papers oppose it. In fact, it appears that the only group which opposes the AV vote in the UK is the Tory party (though Labour struggles with the idea). Why? Because the AV vote may very well destroy the Tories and this would have a huge impact on the US.
UK politics is comprised of a number of parties, though their first-past-the-post system still keeps Labour and Tories firmly in power. In an AV vote system, many smaller parties will have much greater chances to make an impact. Though some claim the impact will be minimal, the reality is that once people realize that they can finally vote for who they want, rather than against who they don't want, politics in the UK could be irrevocably altered and I seriously doubt the UK love affair with the US will survive. And that's why the AV vote could have such a huge impact on the US.
The US and UK have long had what Churchill first described as a special relationship and the UK has long been keen on maintaining it. Part of the problem is simply that the UK doesn't like to think of themselves as part of Europe and thus ceding some influence over world events to a "United States of Europe". Like many countries wanting to maintain influence in world events, the UK has struggled to figure out how to remain relevant. Hence, by hanging on the coattails of the US, the UK has tried to claim themselves a strategic "bridge" between the US and Europe or, in fact, the US and the rest of the world. However, Margaret Thatcher's pro-US policies followed by wide derision of Tony Blair as being George Bush's poodle has led to the UK admitting that the "special relationship" was dead. Tired of being viewed by some as the 51st state, the UK is trying to find a new place in a new world.
|Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Leader|
Photo by Liberal Democrats
So what does the AV vote do in this context? Most predict that the Tories, the major "pro-US" party, getting locked out of power in the long term. They still have plenty of business support, so they're not going away, but they're going to be limited. Also, much of the UK does not want closer ties to Europe, so it remains to be seen what will happen there, but in an AV UK, I can't imagine the Prime Minister being such a blatant poodle that he would act so strongly against public opinion again. After all, there would be no more of a Clintonesque "who else you gonna vote for?" attitude. Under the AV vote, the British people are going to get a chance to have a new voice and that voice isn't guaranteed to be singing the praises of the US.
For the US, that means that one of our closest allies may very well no longer do what we want them to, thus further isolating the US. Clearly the US can't push China around and without the UK to cajole Europe to play along, the US may find itself having less world influence. Can you imagine the last Iraq war without the UK? I seriously doubt it would have happened. The world would clearly be a far different place. Thus, if the AV referendum passes, world politics could be radically altered in the long term.