The Liberal Democrats in Ealing are supporting the YES campaign as part of the voting reform referendum which takes place on Thursday 5th May 2011.
The YES campaign is a collection of those from many political parties - Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Greens, UKIP, a number of Conservatives, as well as those who don't support any particular party. For example one Conservative MP, John Strafford, has been very out-spoken in favour of AV. AV is currently used to elect the Mayor of London so you may be familiar with the system.
The referendum will ask people in the UK whether they want to elect their Members of Parliament (MPs) via the current system (First Past the Post) or via a fairer system called Alternative Vote (AV).
AV works by electing one MP for each constituency after voters select the candidates in their preferred order (1,2,3 etc). Anyone getting more than 50% in the first round is elected, otherwise the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their backers' second choices allocated to those remaining. This simple process continues until a winner emerges.
The current system is a dinosaur of an electoral system. It locks in safe seats so if you are unfortunate to live in one of the eighty percent of constituencies in this country that for generations have been represented by only one political party (such as Ealing Southall) that you don’t support, then tough! Your vote won’t count.
What happens if you like more than one candidate and would like to express this at the ballot box? Tough!
Using Ealing Central & Acton as an example, AV is a system that would encourage candidates and parties to campaign across the whole constituency. If a party concentrated on just Central Ealing then those residents in Acton and Chiswick would probably not support that candidate. A party who worked the whole area would be more likely to win the support of local residents.
If we look at recent opinion polls the YES campaign is ahead, but there are a large number of Ealing residents who are undecided. That is why I wrote this article so more people can get information about the referendum. A representative from the polling company, YouGov, said: "Momentum seems to have shifted in the Yes campaign’s direction."
So if you support changing the way we elect our MPs from the current and out-of-date electoral system, or if you have any questions, then do contact me using email@example.com
Please take a look at the website: www.yestofairervotes.org/
Councillor Gary Malcolm,
Leader of the Ealing Liberal Democrats