Read a revised version of this article here
This week I was excited to see that Nick Clegg has taken another step to parliamentary reform and announced the date for the referendum on the Alternative Vote: 5th May 2011.
I logged onto Twitter and typed AV* into the search bar hoping to have a good nosy at what people were saying about it; I soon found myself a little disappointed. I know there are people who would prefer to keep the First Past the Post voting system in place and that is their opinion which they are perfectly entitled to. But I found so many people posting about how they won’t be voting yes to AV because it doesn’t go far enough. These were people who supported or took part in the purple campaigns for Proportional Representation and I was shocked by their lack of enthusiasm. Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for PR* for a long time now and seeing Nick Clegg finally getting the opportunity to stand up and announce real progress towards parliamentary and voting reform is incredibly exciting and means we are one step closer to achieving the overall aim of PR.
I’m not sure that ‘we won’t settle for anything less than PR’ is the right attitude to take especially with this being a Conservative led coalition, not a Liberal Democrat government. In fact, I think on this particular issue the Liberal Democrats got an excellent deal. AV is not the fairest method of voting, but it is certainly more proportional and a lot fairer than FPTP*.
For the Liberal Democrat supporters out there it would mean more LibDem seats, therefore, more LibDem influence. For once, people would begin to see that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is not a wasted vote and LibDem members would no longer be bombarded during election campaigns with the words ‘they’ll never get in’. Making constituency boundaries more equal in size makes voting fair, and surely in a modern democracy some votes should not be worth more than others. Switching to AV or PR would even benefit the Conservatives who are popular among rural communities.
For the PR supporters, let’s face it, the Liberal Democrats are the only real chance PR campaigners have of achieving their goal (although the Labour Party do seem to be warming to the idea finally), so why would supporters of PR vote against a system that takes a progressive step towards voting reform? It seems basic logic to me that taking a step forward is better than standing still for another five years. So PR supporters – please vote yes to AV, a stubborn attitude won’t get us anywhere.
*Alternative Vote *Proportional Representation *First past the Post