There is little doubt that the current system is unpopular, unfair and outdated. I need to spend little time illustrating this point. Voter turnout is at an all time low. MP’s can be elected with as little as 3 out of 10 votes. For too long people have felt separated from the democracy that is meant to represent them.
The Alternative vote system addresses these problems. Under AV MP’s would need to get more than 50% of the vote. They would have to work harder, reach out to more communities and try to address more of their constituents concerns. The AV system will keep what is best about our current system, for example the important link between MP’s and their constituency, but strengthen it by giving voters more of a say.
The No to AV campaign has made a series of wild claims to try and scare people off from change. I believe the strength of the Yes to AV campaign rests in its ability to tackle these false accusations. Here I will run through a few of these myths:
- “AV is too complicated” – The AV system could not be any simpler. Instead of putting a single X next to a name you put numbers 1,2,3 etc next different names in order of preference. Complicated?
- “AV will lead to more hung parliaments” – Since AV was introduced to Australia in 1918, Australia has had two hung parliaments. The UK, in the same time period, under its current system has had hung parliaments in December 1923, May 1929, February 1974 and May 2010. In Canada under First Past the Post they have had a permanent hung parliaments for the last three elections.
- “AV will help extremist parties” – AV ensures that MP’s have to aim to get a majority of votes, not a minority of votes. Under the current system you can be elected with a small number of votes. This could be why the BNP are campaigning for a “No” vote.
I am under no illusion that the No to AV campaign will be running a well funded high profile campaign, it is up to us though, ordinary people to be prepared to go out and make these arguments in our communities. Already tens of thousands have pledged to support this campaign. Join us!
WE MUST SIEZE IT!!!
This is our one chance to be counted! For years we have had to put up with an unfair, unrepresentative voting system. It is a system that disproportionately benefits those who hold power. There has never been such incentive for the political classes to reform this. Now is maybe the one time in your entire lifetime that we have a chance to change this voting system.
Let me reiterate that most MP’s do not want proportional representation. We will only get this because we want it, not because they will give it to us. Not only must we urge Nick Clegg to send the Tories packing with their laughable offer of a referendum on AV (FPTP with a few extra bits), but we must demand that any government (what ever its composition) give us nothing less than a direct say on proportional representation. Nothing less will do.
There have already been rallies across the country, in Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol and London. NGO’s and pressure groups have come together under the banner of “Take Back Parliament“. This group is calling for a complete change to our voting system, stating that the current parliament one does not represent us. We must take the initiative. In 1997, New Labour promised us PR. We stood back, feeling rather pleased with ourselves as we watched the London Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament the European elections all transform to various forms of PR. And then we waited…and waited…and then silence. The self-serving MP’s managed to bring about electoral reform to almost every institution apart from their own. Well, I say not this time. We must not let them get away with this injustice again.
In the past millions have taken to the streets to try to influence governmental decisions from trying to stop the illegal invasion of Iraq through to preventing the Fox Hunting Bill. This can revolutionise the way we do politics in this country. This is our time, for all people, from all political backgrounds, to demand that we have a say and that our votes count! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to demand change, to be counted! Do not waste it.
Protests are happening at the following locations. More information can be found at the Take back Parliament web-site.
15 May – York
15 May – Edinburgh
15 May – Leicester
16 May – Glasgow
22 May – Southampton
22 May – Paisley, Renfrewshire
22 May – Bradley Stoke, Bristol
19 June – Cardiff