Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Writing in March I posed the question: would a turkey vote for Christmas or Thanksgiving? I don’t think so and therefore it is hardly surprising that so many of our politicians of all party persuasions are dead set against AV (the Alternative Voting System). After all many of them are in seats which the present first-past-the-post system preserves but which under the AV system would probably mean a different result and a loss of seat for them.

For years now we have been run by political parties which have a majority in the House of Commons but which don’t have a majority of the votes cast. Under the new system a candidate will need 50% of the total vote to win the seat. If no candidate succeeds then the second preference votes will be allocated from the least successful candidates until one of the candidates has obtained the necessary 50%. Whilst this system is not ideal it is a far fairer way of electing members of Parliament and could be the starting point for the introduction of a proper system of proportional representation. But if AV is defeated it will be many years, I suspect, before we have the opportunity to change to a more democratic electoral system.

The turnout at General Elections has often been pathetic with many people opting not to vote. One of the reasons for this could be that in many constituencies there seems little point in voting. One or other of the parties has such a stranglehold that it is impossible to unseat them. With the AV system there would be a good chance that predictable safe seats would no longer be predictably safe. A candidate would have to work to secure the necessary 50% of the vote needed. And that would be good for democracy.

The General Synod of the Church of England have used this system for some time now and, of course, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats elect their Leader using AV I hope that tomorrow the people of this country will vote for AV to inaugurate a new system of voting, fit for the 21st Century


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