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Voting for Change: YES to AV! May 5, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Campaigns, Current Affairs, Life, Watching and Waiting.
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YES to Fairer Votes

YES to Fairer Votes

TODAY’S THE DAY when we, the British people, get a chance to make a difference to British politics.

The YES campaign tell us it’s now or never, and in that they’re as guilty as the NO campaign in laying things on a bit thick. If we say no to change now, it doesn’t mean that the opportunity will never come around again: it may or may not; but I’m sure of this much — if we say no now, the chance for change is unlikely to come around again in my lifetime.

This year I turn 50. Just over three decades since I was given my first opportunity to vote — and in all that time my votes have been ignored, despite that fact that I’ve always voted with the majority against the party that’s ended up in power.

Yes, you read that right: I’ve always voted with the majority; and every time, a minority party, a party that most citizens in the UK didn’t want in power, has ended up in power. Because we’ve got a twisted, fundamentally unfair voting system called ‘First Past the Post’ that treats the majority of the British electorate as if we were, quite literally, runners in a race; and as a result of that, most of us get left behind. Our votes simply don’t count. Sure, they’re counted: but we’re the losers: goodbye. Imagine the ‘Weakest Link’ with only one round, where everyone except the first-round winner gets sent off first: we are the weakest link. Wouldn’t make much of a show, would it? So why do we allow it in politics?

TODAY we get the chance to ditch that system for ever … well, for as long as we don’t have another referendum and turn it all upside down again, but hopefully between us we’ve got enough sense not to do that. Today, we get a chance to bring in a fair voting system in which the losers lose but instead of having their votes swept away like writing in the sand when the tide comes in, their votes are picked up and recycled.

I like that: recycling. No wasted votes: everyone’s voice heard until, at last, a genuine winner emerges with more than 50% of the vote.

So today, I’m voting YES to AV … and hoping and praying that you will too, in this two-horse race, the only context where first past the post actually does make sense…

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