The Yes! to Fairer Votes campaign asks: Where does your MP stand on the Alternative Vote?

Earlier this week, Lib Dem Voice highlighted the No2AV campaign’s embarrassing failure to check whether all the Labour MPs they said were opposed to reforming the UK’s unfair electoral system actually are opposed. It turns out that five of the 114 named were listed wrongly.

As a result of the No camp’s confusion, the Yes! to Fairer Votes campaign is asking the public to help make sure all MPs come clean about which side of the debate they support:

What really matters in this referendum is what the people want, not politicians. But since they are meant to represent us, it is only right that we know which MPs agree with the basic principle that they should depend on have to get more than 50% of the vote to get elected, and which ones feel that it is business as usual.

With the referendum just four months away this week, it is time your MP picked a side. Are they afraid to work a little bit harder? Do they back the Westminster “jobs for life” culture? Or do they want to give voters more of a say? Either way – we want them on the record.

Please take a moment now to explain to your MP why you want change. And if they don’t want change, ask them why they support first past the post.

Ask your MP “yes or no” now.

All we want is a bit of clarity. The more letters they receive, the more pressure they’ll feel to pick a side. So please take five minutes to write to your MP today – and encourage your friends to do the same.

To find out more about the Yes! campaign — and how you can help them win the battle for fairer votes — visit their website: www.yestofairervotes.org.

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10 Comments

  • My MP (a Liberal Democrat for whom I voted) told me before the General Election that he supported a change to the voting system and wanted to do away with the unfair first-past-the-post, however he also said that he opposed an increase in tuition fees, so I guess that there is good chance he will be joining the No2AV campaign!

  • Whatever Clegg touches, turns to stone. Because electoral reform is so tied to Clegg in the public’s mind, this will be their perfect opportunity to kick him. Frankly, this vote is already dead on arrival.

  • Cleggie may be right.

    Personally I strongly favour Fairer Votes but haven’t made up my mind whether AV is more or less unfair than FPTP. Neither is proportional, both are riddled with anomolies.

    If the country votes no, is that the end of electoral reform in my lifetime? If it votes yes, will the anomolies of AV lead to a quick return to FPTP and/or a further backlash against the Lib Dems who have most to gain from AV?

    Why did the party leadership accept a referendum on 2 dodgy voting systems?

  • Daniel Henry 9th Jan '11 - 5:04pm

    What “anomolies” are you thinking of?
    You’re right that AV isn’t a proportional system, but it still offers nothing but improvements over FPTP.
    It solves problems of “split vote” and “tactical voting” and will make the election results of your constituency MP more representative of the voters.

    https://cid-93094717ed34c971.office.live.com/fullscreen?resid=93094717ED34C971!162&filename=Why%20AV.pptx&wx=p&wa=wsignin1.0&wv=s&wc=officeapps.live.com&wy=y&wp=y

  • In the recent Australian General Election the centre-right so-called Coalition parties received 43 percent of first preference votes (called primary votes in Australia) against 38 percent for Labour. Adding second preference votes turned it into a dead heat in popular vote and seats.

    I don’t know whether FPTP would have been better or worse, but the fact is that the second preferences of people who voted for the least succesful parties damaged the “Coalition” which, while clearly short of a majority of the popular vote, was 7 points ahead of its closest rival on first preferences.

  • Sorry Daniel I obviously meant to type “5 points ahead of its nearest rival” not 7 points. Best not trust me to count the votes at the next election!

  • @Chris. The Greens in Australia are becoming a substantial 3rd force in Australian politics – and in many electorates getting well over 20% of the vote. As the Labor party moved to the centre, it has lost some of its left-wing support to the Greens which comes back to them as second preferences. The election had a two-party preferred vote between Lab and the Coalition of almost 50 – 50…

  • @blindfaith
    So the 50/50 vote was dependant on second preferences. It’s the classic problem with AV – why should second preferences receive equal weight to first preferences?

    I know little about Aussie politics – is the Labour Party is playing a clever game? Move to the centre in order to capture middle ground votes, don’t worry too much about upsetting left wingers because you’ll get their second preference votes and can get away with throwing them the occasional bone.

    It may be that the Australian system is especially suspect because voting is compulsory – which is an afront to civil liberties and makes me wonder how much credence should be given to certain voters, especially since it is also compulsory in Australia to record a preference for every candidate.

  • This is the only thing Clegg really has now, and remember, if the referendum is lost, then FPTP has a mandate, and there is little Clegg can do.

  • @Paddy Bird
    One of the problems with AV is that it will be perceived as a system to benefit an under-represented centerist party (the Lib Dems) while being unlikely to help under-represented radical alternatives (Greens, UKIP).

    If the referendum is lost, opponents of PR will certainly claim that FPTP has a mandate. But true reformers can point out that voters were not offered PR as a choice. Reformers’ case will be strengthened if they point out NOW the glaring defects of both FPTP and AV and suggest that each elector should decide for themselves which system they think is the less bad. That way, pro-PR reformers can’t be accused of back-pedalling, or of wanting a second bite of the cherry until the “right” answer is obtained (like an Irish EU referendum).

    If reformers persist – against the evidence – in arguing that AV is a kind of watered-down PR, referendum failure will certainly make it difficult to argue for PR, which will be labelled by anti-reformers as a more “extreme” option.

    The Electoral Reform Society should hang their heads in shame for their uncritical support for AV – a system which makes no more sense than FPTP when a Parliament (as opposed to a single post-holder) is being elected.

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