Tag Archives: alternative vote

LibLink: Vernon Bogdanor – Change the voting system, change the UK

Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at the University of Oxford, and David Cameron’s tutor at Brasenose College, looks at the alternative vote referendum in an article in today’s Financial Times, and suggests it could have far-reaching consequences. But first he points out the Alice in Wonderland politics of the referendum:

The Lib Dems, who favour true proportional representation, now back a system that can yield even more disproportional outcomes than first-past-the-post. Labour, the only party to propose a referendum on AV in its manifesto, will oppose the bill providing for it. The Conservatives will oppose change, but in muted fashion, since

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

AV campaigns able to spend more than £11 million

Today’s Financial Times reports:

Campaigners for and against electoral reform will be able to spend a total of more than £11m in a blizzard of promotional material and advertisements in the run-up to next year’s referendum, the Electoral Commission has confirmed.

Under the law, the Yes and No campaigns on the alternative vote (AV) system can each spend £5m of private money as well as £600,000 apiece of public funding. The two sides will also be given free use of public rooms such as council buildings, a TV broadcast and free postal delivery to households across the UK of 20m

Posted in News | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes … Labour’s staggering hypocrisy on the Alternative Vote

The decision by what remains of the Labour high command to vote against legislation bringing a referendum on the Alternative Vote is one of the most hypocritical and staggeringly self-interested political decisions in recent years.

After 13 years of promising reform, in which precious little materialised, each and every Labour MP campaigned at this election on the promise of a referendum on AV. That referendum has now been proposed by the Coalition Government and a Bill to make it happen put forward, yet Labour’s shadow cabinet has now decided to oppose the legislation.

What an astonishing decision.

It is even more astonishing given …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 66 Comments

Hughes attacks Labour’s “naked opportunism” in opposing vote reform bill

Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes has not minced his words in decrying Labour’s decision to vote against the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which would allow a referendum on electoral reform:

This is staggering hypocrisy from Labour. Labour’s shadow cabinet decision is not about principle, it is about naked opportunism. With most of their leadership contenders claiming to back AV for a fairer voting system, it is astonishing they now wish to block the legislation to make that happen.

“Each and every Labour MP campaigned on a manifesto committing to a referendum. Now they have the opportunity to make

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 76 Comments

Can you design a poster to win the AV “Yes” campaign?

TakeBackParliament.com has launched a competition to crowd-source the design talent of bloggers who support abolishing first-past-the-vote and replacing it with the Alternative Vote in readiness for next May’s referendum.

Andy May – occasional contributor to LDV – has mocked up this effort to get the ball rolling:

AV Poster

But he’s asking for readers’ assistance

What do you think? Could you do better?

We’re looking for your poster designs and ideas – post your design on your blog and paste the link in the comments or send them to

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

One from the archives … Chris Huhne slams the Alternative Vote

Actually, I’ve not trawled back that far – just five months, February this year, when the Lib Dems’ Chris Huhne launched a salvo on The Guardian’s Comment is Free against the Alternative Vote as a means of electoral reform:

is very similar to first-past-the-post in two key respects. Because it is based on single constituencies – a virtue for its proponents, who say they prize the constituency link – the parties continue to select one candidate each, and the voters only have one choice for each party. …

Conservative opposition to electoral reform gives the lie to David Cameron’s pretence that

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Should our MPs give Clegg more support in the Commons?

Yesterday Nick Clegg stood up as Deputy Prime Minister in the House of Commons and announced there would be a referendum to reform the voting system within the next year.

If I’d suggested just a few weeks ago that I would be able to type that sentence with a straight face I imagine most folk would think I’d lost any grasp on reality. Yet it’s what happened.

True, the route to Nick becoming Deputy Prime Minister is not proving easy: coalition with the Tories is forcing uncomfortable compromises on the Lib Dems. And true, the alternative vote is not a proportional …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 34 Comments

LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott – AV is not the only vote

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, former Conservative, now Liberal Democrat, MEP Edward McMillan-Scott argues there should be a third option in the coming referendum on electoral reform – the single transferable vote. Here’s an excerpt:

I understand that the Electoral Reform Society and senior Liberal Democrats have concluded that the alternative vote option presented in the coalition agreement is the best that can be achieved at this stage and that any discussion on the issue will cloud the debate. …

Single party advantage has no part to play in what amounts to a change of constitutional significance. Westminster has

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments

Opinion: Why Lib Dems should have no reservations about campaigning for AV

Lib Dems are necessarily an introspective bunch, given to minute analysis of the implications of our own policies in order to ensure they’re entirely fair & liberal. As a consequence, the compromises involved in the coalition agreement (and the practices thereof) have come as something of a brutal shock to many party members – most significantly over the VAT increase. I still find that unbelievable – why on earth would you raise a transaction tax when demand is weak? However, that’s not the issue at hand, which is the Alternative Vote.

The Alternative Vote works by enabling the voter to rank …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

David Cameron to campaign against Alternative Vote reform

This morning, David Miliband – leading contender for the Labour Leadership – said that he’s in favour of Alternative Vote reform.

Now the BBC reports:

David Cameron will campaign against changing the voting system, his spokesman said, in a referendum expected next May.

His spokesman said the PM would be asked his view and “clearly his view is that he’s not in favour of it”.

There’s been some ambiguity about whether Cameron being against AV constitutes him campaigning against the reform – the Prime Minister’s own spokesman doesn’t yet seem sure:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

David Miliband backs Alternative Vote reform, lays down gauntlet to Cameron

With Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg set to announce 5th May, 2011, as the date of the referendum on electoral reform, David Miliband – currently the leading contender to become the next Labour leader – was this morning asked the direct question whether he would back the move to the Alternative Vote. His answer was unequivocal: yes, and he would be infavour of Labour members campaigning for it during the referendum campaign:

I think that it’s important that we move to a system where every Member of Parliament has at least 50 per cent of the vote of their constituents.”

It’s …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Clegg to announce AV referendum date “next week”

Reuters reports:

Liberal Democrats want a date to be set for a referendum on the move to the Alternative Vote system as a tangible reward for their role as junior coalition partners with the Conservatives.

The LibDems hope a vote can be held as early as next May, although AV actually falls short of their desire for a genuinely proportional voting system.

“I’m hoping to make an announcement literally in a couple of days, next week,” Clegg said in answer to a question after making a speech in London.

Read the full piece here.

And as Mark’s already blogged, it’s not too soon …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Timing the AV referendum

When should the Government’s promised referendum on AV be held? That’s the question causing a fair amount of debate at the heart of the coalition.

From the simple good governance point of view, the answer is as soon as possible – because the sooner it is held, the more time there will be if AV is passed to get the law and then the administration right in good time ahead of the next general election. Late changes to election rules have been the bane of the electoral system far too often in the last decade.

The second, and more contentious, argument is …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 40 Comments

Cameron won’t campaign against AV in referendum

Yesterday’s Times reported the news that David Cameron has decided not to spend his political capital campaigning against electoral reform, whenever the referendum on changing from first-past-the-post to the alternative vote is to be held:

Cameron insisted he remained a supporter of the present voting system: “I will not change my view that the alternative vote is not an improvement to first-past- the-post, so I will make that clear at the time.”

However, he also made clear he would not play an active role in the “no” campaign: “I will have other things to do as well.” …

Some in Cameron’s inner

Posted in News | Also tagged | 14 Comments

The coalition agreement: political reform

Welcome to the sixteenth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

The political reform section of the coalition document is the second longest in the whole agreement, beaten for length only by the NHS section. By now the headlines from this section are very familiar:

  • Fixed-term Parliaments
  • A referendum on the alternative vote
  • The ability for voters to force an MP to face a special by-election if they have been found guilty of serious wrongdoing (“recall”)
  • A “wholly or mainly” elected House of Lords, using proportional representation
  • Any petition that gets

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 12 Comments

Norman Lamb: “A Queen’s Speech of which Liberal Democrats can be proud”

It is worth spending a moment reflecting on just how remarkable today’s Queen’s Speech is from a Liberal Democrat perspective.

We have become conditioned to believe that the policies we develop will never be implemented. A good intellectual exercise but nothing more. Yet here we have a programme for government of which we can be proud. It contains an extraordinary list of Liberal Democrat commitments on which we fought the general election.

Right from the start the speech grabs attention:

My Government’s legislative programme will be based upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility.

Who would have dreamt of those words introducing the Queen’s speech just a few weeks ago?

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 36 Comments

Good luck to John Denham

I’ve only heard John Denham speak in person once, but the time I did (earlier this month) it was immediately clear why he’s so often been rated by others as one of the better and more thoughtful Labour MPs.

So it’s good to see that he has become the new chair of Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform saying,

An AV referendum is on the agenda because of the work Labour electoral reformers have done. We have to make sure the Labour Party maintains its commitment to the AV referendum and to success in the referendum if and when it comes.

I much prefer …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: Let’s switch the P-word

As we start to prepare for a referendum on the Alternative Vote, two words are bothering me. They are Proportional Representation. These words massively simplify the possibilities of electoral reform and unfortunately cloud the issue.

Some talk about ‘Electoral Reform’, but this is far to vague for a referendum and I believe we need a new mantra. Not PR or ER, but PV. Preferential Voting.

This may sound like a tedious matter of semantics, but when it comes to elections and referenda, the structure of your rhetoric will determine the nature of the debate, and the eventual outcome. Switching the ‘P-word’ could …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 39 Comments

Opinion: And now for the next steps

It still seems strange to think of the Liberal Democrat party being part of the Government with Liberal Democrats sitting in the Cabinet. The announcement of the coalition with the Conservative party was a bitter sweet moment – at last, we were entering Government, but we were doing so with a party we have long fought against.

It is a fantastic achievement to see long cherished Liberal Democrat policies being part of the Government’s legislative programme. There is disappointment though that other policies are not part of that programme. We must ensure that we continue to fight for these aims, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

The 14 non-Lib Dem MPs who backed the Single Transferable Vote

The House of Commons yesterday voted by 365 votes to 187 to hold a UK-wide referendum on changing the voting system next year from first-past-the-post to the alternative vote. The Lib Dems reluctantly voted for the alternative vote, as the most modest of improvements on the current, broken system.

But the party, in the person of Cambridge MP David Howarth, also moved an amendment to leave out ‘an alternative-vote’ and insert ‘a single transferable vote’ – in other words, to ask Parliament to approve an electoral system which would at last reflect the votes cast for parties across the country, …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

LibLink: Chris Huhne – The alternative vote is not the solution

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free site, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne argues Labour has got it wrong in proposing a referendum on the Alternative Vote: only the Single Transferable Vote will remedy the unfairness of the present system. Here’s an excerpt:

is very similar to first-past-the-post in two key respects. Because it is based on single constituencies – a virtue for its proponents, who say they prize the constituency link – the parties continue to select one candidate each, and the voters only have one choice for each party.

That means that in the majority of parliamentary

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 12 Comments

Daily View: Electoral Reform Reader

It’s not very often electoral reform tops the news headlines – which is probably no bad thing.

As yesterday was one of those rare occasions, let’s see what was being said – Lib Dem bloggers had some differences of opinion:

The Futility Monster took the subtle, understated approach with the headline “Stick Your AV Up Your Arse

The problem is that this is purely a gimmick, done purely to ask questions of the Lib Dems. Brown has no history of interest in electoral reform,

LibCync, on the other hand, was more positive:

I can’t believe anyone can seriously suggest that we shouldn’t support

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Daily View 2×2: 2 February 2010

Today is Groundhog Day, but I’ve resisted the temptation to simply give you yesterday’s Daily View again. It’s also the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, which symbolises the turning point of winter towards spring.

Twenty years ago today President FW de Klerk began to dismantle apartheid in South Africa, announcing that he had lifted the 30-year ban on the African National Congress, the Pan African Congress and the South African Communist Party. De Klerk also committed to release jailed ANC leader Nelson Mandela, who was freed nine days later. Commenting on the news, Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “He has taken …

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Huhne: AV “small step in right direction” BUT not proportional

What is it about Labour? Why are they waiting til the dying days of their last government for X years to propose anything new and radical? Yesterday, LDV posted the news that Labour has, eventually, U-turned on non-doms, and agreed to Lib Dem proposals that they will no longer be able to sit in Parliament.

And then later last night came the news that Labour will put to the Parliamentary vote next week proposals for a referendum to be staged as a step towards replacing the ‘first past the post’ system.

Chris Huhne, the Lib Dems’ shadow home secretary, …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 23 Comments

LibLink … Stephen Tall: Help save Labour with PR? No thanks

Compass, the left-leaning pressure group, has launched a campaign for a referendum on proportional representation. Music to the Lib Dems’ ears?

Lib Dem Voice’s own Stephen Tall explains today at Comment is Free why it’s not something we’ll be supporting as a party, this side of the General Election:

Labour has had 12 years in which to renew the democratic fabric of this country. They failed to do anything about it because, quite simply, they didn’t care enough about it. If they care now, it is only because it’s expedient to; and expediency is the worst possible motive for reform.

Stephen argues …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Opinion: Forget open primaries, and go for STV instead

During the debate on MPs’ expenses at the Lib Dem conference recently, one of the speakers, Michael Meadowcroft, suggested that instead of having open primaries as a way of restoring trust in the political process, why not use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) instead?

STV has been the preferred voting system of the Liberal party and Liberal Democrats for many decades, and was championed by the greatest liberal of all, John Stuart Mill, in the nineteenth century. This week Gordon Brown announced that Labour, if re-elected, would propose a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) system, in which instead of marking your ballot paper with an X, you write down your preferences by rank, 1, 2, 3, etc …

The problem with AV is that you are still only electing one person per constituency.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 17 Comments

12 years to re-state a watered-down pledge. So much for progress. #lab09

The Labour Party manifesto 1997:

We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. An independent commission on voting systems will be appointed early to recommend a proportional alternative to the first-past-the-post system.

Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour Party conference 2009:

There is now a stronger case than ever that MPs should be elected with the support of more than half their voters – as they would be under the Alternative Voting system. And so I can announce today that in Labour’s next manifesto there will be a commitment for a referendum to be held early

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Roland
    Attach an Apple Air Tag to your sign, whilst it won’t stop the sign being removed, you stand a good chance of locating where it’s been taken to…...
  • John Marriott
    @Peter Martin Under PR I reckon that, with their current opinion poll rating of around 12%, the Lib Dems might expect to get around 78 seats at Westminster. @...
  • David Blake
    Many years ago, my girlfriend at the time was living in a flat owned by the local Conservatives. One weekend all the power went out. The fusebox was in the ba...
  • Tom Hannigan
    The 3 main parties in Ireland frequently nominate more than one candidate in our multi seat constituencies which can have 3,4 or 5 seats. It depends on what you...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Andrew, You seem to be somewhat contradictory on your "solidarity fund". Whatever you want to call it it will mean that if someone moves to Germany fro...