It turns out Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins is a big fan of 1980s TV classic Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Well, at least he is when it appears to offer easy-to-understand evidence in support of his political stance.
The lesson Mr Collins has taken from the plot of this particular episode, which involves the lads voting on the colour they want to use to redecorate their hut, is that under AV it is possible that ‘everybody gets what nobody wants’.
“This week in Parliament I was reminded of an episode of the classic 1980s sitcom Auf Wiedersehen Pet, which provides one of the best explanations of and arguments against the alternative vote system,” he wrote last month.
“In order to decide upon a colour to paint their hut, the lads decide to vote expressing a first choice and an alternative preference.
“There was no clear winner after the first choices were counted, but after the second preferences ‘yellow’ was the winner; even though no-one had put it first. The result, as one of them described it was that ‘everybody gets what nobody wants’.”
It’s wonderful to see a Tory building his argument on the back of a programme depicting the impact of the devastation wrought on the northern working class by the policies of the Thatcher government, but the simple fact is Mr Collins has got it wrong.
Under AV the lads would not have been forced to paint their modest accommodation in shade they all despised. If no candidate achieves a majority of first preferences cast in the first round of voting under AV, the candidate with the fewest is automatically eliminated before their second preferences are reallocated among those remaining in the ballot.
Therefore, having not been chosen first by any of the gang, yellow would have been rejected before a second round of counting.
In his blog post Mr Collins added: “At a time when our priorities are cutting down the country’s debts and creating jobs for people, we can ill afford the confusion and expense of changing the way we elect MPs; we have more important things to be focused on.”
But perhaps, if his interpretation of the sitcom scene he quotes is anything to go by, it’s actually Mr Collins who seems confused by the nature of the choice being offered to the British people at the May referendum.
Or maybe, as one Liberal Democrat insider put it to me, “he’s a scaremongering alarmist using spurious arguments to put people off voting for something he fears will remove an ingrained advantage he and his party have enjoyed for decades”.
And on that note, it’s auf wiedersehen from me.
(If you’d rather not base your choice on the future of our electoral system on an 1980s sitcom, you can find the arguments for and against the introduction of the alternative vote at Yes To Fairer Votes and and No To AV.)