On AV, the monarchy and consitutional reformtldr: the system is broken, but AV is better than FPTP.
AV is, indeed, a miserable little compromise. The truth is that it may well not make a huge difference to our system. Its possible we might see more coalitions, because the liberal democrats might win more seats, but then again they might well have destroyed themselves as a party by entering into a coalition (more on that in another post I think). It might also see the emergence of some smaller parties- places with strong green representation may end up actually electing one or two representatives.
But heres whats really great about AV, and why you should go for it. You can go into an election booth and vote for the candidate you want to win, with no fears that this will cause the candidate you don't want to win to succeed. You can vote labour/conservative even if they are third, or green even if they are fifth. And, indeed, if you are a big ol' racist you can vote BNP and then switch to a party with electoral hopes. And thats just nice. If you really want no-one other than your chosen candidate to win, you can always put them as your first preference and then no-one else second, but usually we have a ranking of candidates in mind.
To address the no to AV arguments
250 million is, of course, nonsense. It includes the cost of the referendum, and the cost of electronic machines which we won't necessarily need. Its also actually not that much in the grand scheme of things if we get better democracy out of it. Imagine someone campaigning against museum funding by saying its killing babies. Its absurd.
Theres no evidence that the BNP will win under AV, as their campaigning against it might suggest by itself. But even if they did, we have two choices when dealing with extremist parties. Let them run, or ban them. To let them run but then cheat so they don't win is so ridiculously anti-democratic its absurd.
Coalitions are terrible things. Now I know a lot of people hate this coalition, but imagine this govt without the lib dems in it... do we imagine a better government for this country? A fairer and more democratic one? Hmm. Strong govt is not that great a thing, it really isn't, it means bad bills get passed (more on this in my next post)
People get to vote twice. No, no they don't. What happens is I vote labour, you vote conservative. Labour get knocked out, so I vote lib dem... and you vote conservative. So yeah, it just means I'm not ignored, not that you are.
So yeah, vote AV. But do bear in mind that even with the perfect electoral system, our consitution is so utterly fucked up. I shall speak more on this in my next post.