There seems to be along time still to go until next May, when we are promised that there will be a referendum on the alternative vote system, but already those in favour and those against are starting to campaign.
Take Back Parliament is on of the groups campaigning for a yes vote. Click here for its web-site. It is a broad coalition of organisations. Inasmuch as it is an organisation itself which is campaigning for political change it is non-political. Although the Lib Dems support its objectives it is not a part of the coalition (not this one anyway).
The referendum will be about bringing in a voting system called ‘alternative vote’ (AV). This system won’t deliver true proportional representation but it is at least a step in the right direction. Click here for an explanation, by the Electoral Reform Society, of how it works. In essence it would mean that in a constituency in which no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote it would be possible for a second placed candidate with wider support to be elected.
The arguments in favour of some form of proportional representation are strong. The current system results in the number of seats in parliament to be signficantly out of line with the votes cast in the election. For example in the last parliamentary election in the Eastern Region the Tories got 47% of the votes and won 52 out of 58 seats! The Lib Dems were the second placed party but its 24% of the vote only delivered 4 seats.
It is difficult to forecast the results of elections using AV using the results in first passed the post elections. Although the Lib Dems came good seconds to the Tories in South and South East Cambridgeshire it is simply not possible to say whether or not the result would have been different with AV.
There was a ‘Say yes! to fairer votes’ stall in Cambridge on Saturday and David went to register his support. David says: ‘The Lib Dems consistently win substantial shares of the vote across the UK but does not get translated into seats won because of our unfair election system. I fully support a change’.