Monday, July 05, 2010

Nick Clegg announces AV Referendum - 304 days to make the case for fairer votes

So there we have it. Nick Clegg told a fractious House of Commons this afternoon that a referendum on the Alternative Vote system would take place on 5th May next year. That gives us 304 days to make the case for changing the voting system. Respect to Mark Reckons for coming up with the ultimate headline - May the Fifth be with you. Sometimes I wonder if this party isn't too full of geeks for its own good....

AV isn't what we Liberal Democrats want, but it's better than the rotten system we have. It can't be bad to expect MPs to have to get the support of half the people who vote in their constituency.

Nor can it be bad to have the same number of voters in every seat. As Nick Clegg said this afternoon, the Chartists, one of the main movements for political reform in the 19th century, had equal constituency sizes at the heart of their proposals which were as follows:

A vote for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for crime.

The secret ballot. - To protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
No property qualification for members of Parliament - thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich or poor.

Payment of members, thus enabling an honest tradesman, working man, or other person, to serve a constituency, when taken from his business to attend to the interests of the Country.

Equal Constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies to swamp the votes of large ones.

Annual parliaments, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since though a constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelve-month; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.

I'll come back to this later but just had a quick domestic timetable upheaval, so I'll leave you with the Fairer Votes Campaign website to have a look at and register with.

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