Tweeting for STV

Like many former Liberals of a certain vintage, I was wooed to the cause of electoral reform by the diminutive but formidable figure of Enid Lakeman, who even at an advanced age could spear opponents with her logic and conviction. I wish she were around today to add her appraisal of whether Gordon Brown’s referendum on AV is a step forwards or a step backwards in the long march to Fair Votes.

As virtually everyone seems to be talking about ‘fairness’ these days, surely it is time that LibDems seized the moment and trumpeted our belief in STV? Moreover, we should make use of new media, not least social networking, to get our message over.

That was the core theme of my address to the AGM of the LibDem electoral pressure group DAGGER at the party headquarters at Cowley Street last weekend. Just as Fair Votes remains the discourse of the enlightened few, so, too often, is it confined within the boundaries of traditional campaigning – which would have been very familiar to Enid Lakeman – such as ill-attended public meetings, pamphlets and the occasional book.

It is time for electoral reform to go viral. Moreover, I believe we should be using every opportunity offered by new media to get out a strong clarion call for STV, thereby forcing a public debate on the issue. We can do this through writing posts on our blogs (if we have one), commenting on other people’s blogs and setting up or joining appropriate Facebook groups.

Above all, we can tweet. Make STV a song on Twitter that will become as familiar and persistent as that of a songthrush. All the evidence shows that even if no electoral system is perfect, STV is better than anything else that has been tried.

Even Roy Jenkins recognised that in the report his Commission produced in 1998, though he then went on perversely to recommend AV+ on the grounds that the House of Commons would accept nothing more radical. Brown, of course, hasn’t even offered the possibility of that.

But our discredited Parliament should not be the body which chooses our voting system. It should be the people, after an informed debate, in which STV should figure large. If STV is good enough for the Scots and the Irish, why not for Britain as a whole? That sentence was less than 140 characters, so there’s a good tweet for a start!

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5 Comments

  • Dave’s right – wouln’t we be better off backing existing campaigns rather than confusing people with yet another?
    Don’t forget that Power 2010 recently selected PR as the top issue for reform – why not add support to that?

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