Home > Uncategorized > The Alternative Vote: Why We Need Reform!

The Alternative Vote: Why We Need Reform!

On May 5th there is a historic referendum taking place that allows us the voters to choose for the first time how we elect our MPs.

The choice is simple: We can continue to vote with an X, for the party we think has a chance of winning and is acceptable to us, even if they aren’t our first choice. With this system the candidate who has more votes than any other individual wins, even if those votes amount to less than 50% of the votes cast. Or we can change to the Alternative Vote (AV) system where you can rank as many or as few of the candidates as you wish.  Using this system, if a candidate secures 51% of the votes immediately they are elected. However if the majority of people haven’t voted in favour of a single candidate then the candidate with fewest votes drops out and the 2nd preferences of people voting for that candidate are added to the votes already cast for candidates remaining in the race.  This process continues until one candidate secures more than 50% of the votes of people who have expressed a preference in that round. AV puts a post into the current system of First Past the Post (FPTP).
No longer will any MP be able to sit in the House of Commons with 29% of the vote like Simon Wright in Norwich South. In the 1992 election, in the Inverness, Nairn & Lochaber constituency, 4 out of the 5 candidates standing got over 20% of the vote, with Russell Johnston winning on 26% of the vote. This should never be allowed to happen. He did not have a mandate to represent his constituents in parliament.
Under AV, no MP will be able to do what Hazel Blears, our MP, did at the last election. They will not be able to lose 15% of their support & still get elected. If we use FPTP in 2015, Nick Clegg will be able to do the same. He’ll be able to lose 15% of his support in his constituency and be re-elected. Under AV, Clegg can’t afford to lose any support.
The No campaign will say that AV will mean permanent coalitions but that is not necessarily the case. All simulations show that had we used AV since 1983 the same government would have been returned albeit with a different majority. There has been a trend away from the two main parties in the last 30 years i.e. to a more plural politics. If that trend continues it won’t matter whether we use AV or FPTP, coalitions will become the norm as Labour & the Conservatives struggle to gain enough seats to govern outright. If you don’t like coalition governments then your only choice is to get more people to go back to voting for the two main parties.
AV will force the Conservatives to move back to the right in order to pick up the 2nd preferences of the eurosceptic UKIP & other right-leaning parties. It will force Labour back towards the left in order to pick up the 2nd preferences of the Green party & other left leaning parties that might spring up.
AV allows you to vote with your conscience and your heart for your first choice, knowing that it won’t be a wasted vote because if that candidate is eliminated, you will still have a say in who is elected.
AV is a small change that will make a big difference. This is a once in a lifetime chance to change how we elect our MPs. Vote Yes on May 5th.
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