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Rene Kinzett

AV or bust?

July 5th, 2010 by René Kinzett

At the time of Brown’s (political) deathbed conversion to electoral reform, I urged Conservative MPs, even those (admittedly very few) who believed in electoral reform, to vote AGAINST the Bill to bring about a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV).

Let me be clear. I oppose the current First-Past-The-Post system and I suppose some people would say that I should welcome any reform and embrace the proposals to move away from FPTP as being at least a ”step in the right direction”.

But, I am afraid to say, my view remains that the proposals for a referendum on AV is a sham and a missed opportunity for real reform. The Alternative Vote is a sham of a compromise. It does not tackle the fundamental problems associated with the current FPTP system and indeed embeds them further. The result of an AV election is not proportional to the votes cast across the country and the system offers no more choice to the elector and instead still invests most power with the political party machine.

For those keen on the “first step” to real reform and who are minded to press their MP to vote for an AV referendum, they should remember that the 1911 Parliament Act, designed as a temporary measure to allow the passing of the ”People’s Budget”, before more radical reform of the Lords could be brought forward, has been with us now for nearly a century.

Let us not go forward with a reform we will regret. I want to see real pressure applied to the leadership of my Party to support fair votes and to be persauded of the case for electoral reform as part of a wider agenda to return power to the people. I am hoping that the Liberal Democrats will at least bring forward an amendment to the AV Referendum Bill and propose that the question posed to the people is at least a choice between FPTP and AV+, which will at least bring about a more proportional result and create a more pluralist House of Commons.

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