I’d never thought of comparing electoral systems to sport. That is, until a host of sports stars recently weighed in on the AV debate. Now I’m told to compare my trip to the ballot box to facing a googly, to finishing a grand prix, and competing at the Olympics. That’s why on May 5th, I’ll be bringing my pads and a spare tyre to the polling station, along with forgetting to check the legality of my cough medicine.
The two worst offenders are David Gower and Darren Gough. Their cringe inducing Youtube videos have attained something of a cult status. “In cricket it’s very simple”, Gower explains. “The team that gets the most runs wins, and I can’t see why it should be any different in politics”. Several cricket analogies later, and several utterances of “if you lose, you lose”, the ex-England left-hander introduces the concept of the ‘googly’. AV is the googly, apparently. Gower’s point, of course, is that politics shouldn’t be like cricket. Unless you’re out, in which case you stay out. And the ball should spin the expected way. If Gower message is confused, Darren Gough’s is forceful. “In cricket we have a corridor of uncertainty, and that’s exactly what AV will create”. The fast bowler’s mind has perhaps been warped by over exposure to sequins during his time on Strictly Come Dancing. He needs to re-examine what exactly means in any case.
It is not only the No campaign that have enlisted the aid of sportspeople. Kriss Akabusi took on a world champion boxer in a debate chaired by the bewildered John Snow. He did well to keep a straight face as Kriss reeled off a series of statistics, and his sparring partner repeated “If you win you win, if you lose you lose” on numerous occasions. It’s not entirely clear how you could win and lose simultaneously, but that seems to be the go to phrase for these No sportspeople.
Eddie Jordan and James Cracknell are also in the No camp, with many others from a whole range of sports, such as cricket, motor sport, rowing and horse racing. The suggestion, then, that supporters of first past the post are part of a privileged elite is clearly ridiculous. They are very knowledgeable about electoral reform though. The makeshift brain trust of Gower, Jordan and Cracknell only decided to throw their weight behind the No campaign after a lengthy conference call discussing whether they should support the additional member system instead, before ultimately deciding that it would leave too great a difference in accountability between constituency MPs and top-up MPs.
So on May 5th just remember this: If you win you win, unless the Australians bowl a googly and get a flat tyre with a low turnout. Personally, I’ll be waiting until David Beckham comes down on one side or another before making my decision.