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01 May 2011

Referendum on Electoral Reform 5th May 2011

It's a great shame that what should have been a sensible and apolitical debate on the pros and cons of "First past the post" versus "Alternative Vote" has degenerated into a slanging match between Party politicians.

Both sides have been economical with the truth, and some have been telling downright lies, repeatedly, using the Goebbels principle that if you tell a lie frequently enough it eventually becomes the accepted truth.

This is far more important for the future democracy of our country than which politician supports which system, and whether or not we like that politician. If you are voting YES because you don't like David Cameron, or if you are voting NO because you don't like Nick Clegg, you are totally missing the point.

It's about whether the existing voting system is democratic and allows you to have a greater say in who becomes our representative in Parliament. Is it right that 70% of the MPs currently in the House of Commons are there with the support of a MINORITY of their voters? Is it right that nearly every Government (if not all) since the 2nd World War have imposed their ideologies upon the country with less than half the country supporting them? What kind of democracy is that?

"AV" is far from perfect, but at least it does two important things: it retains the constituency link with a single MP, and it ensures that no MP is elected without the support of at least half the voters. What is bad about that?

The current system was just about defensible in the middle of the 20th century, when people were pretty much voting either for the Great Blue Tribe or the Great Red Tribe. Today's politics are more fluid, and we are no longer slavishly devoted to one of two Great Tribes.

So, I am saying YES to change on 5th May and would urge all who have not yet made up their mind to take this (probably) once in a generation opportunity to take a small step forward. Ignore all this talk of excessive cost, electronic counting machines, and so on. It's already been stated in a Parliamentary Answer that the cost of running either of the two systems are not that different, and there are no plans to use electronic counting machines.

Another myth put about is that you are obliged to place all candidates in order of preference. You have no such obligation. If you wish to cast a vote for only one candidate, and you think all the others are appalling then you just place a '1' against your candidate. Easy as 1,2,3 (or just 1 in your case!)

Vote YES to change.
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