Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Terry Ashton, onetime general secretary of the Greater London Labour Party, has a letter in Tribune this week responding to Paul Anderson's last column in the magazine:
Paul Anderson (Tribune, February 18) argues against the alternative vote, but fails to make his case that it would be an even worse system than first past the post.

The Electoral Reform Society is backing a "Yes" vote in May's referendum because it shakes up British complacency about the quality of our democracy. Britain has never recommend first past the post as the system of choice when advising emerging democracies.

A "yes" would vote begin the process of freshening up our democracy and making everyone's vote worthwhile, not just the minority of a minority in the marginal seats. No party could form a government on just 34 per cent of the vote.

The democratic way to respond to those who have the temerity not to vote Labour is not to try and give them a stark choice between Labour and Tory (or a Tory-led coalition) but to engage with the reasons why they don't consider supporting Labour in the first instance.

The publication of first choices in voting would indicate someone's number one preference and could be instructive. Why are we just not responding sufficiently robustly to environmentalist concerns? Why are "anti-cuts" candidates standing? Don't they realise that Labour has resisted as strongly as is possible in a democracy and that they could split the vote and let in the real villains?

Being in power has its responsibilities, as the Liberal Democrats are finding out. Suggesting there are easy answers is irresponsible in a 21st century democracy. So vote "Yes" for one step forward. After all, AV is only first past the post-plus.

There will be a response on all this here very soon.

1 comment:

  1. If the best we can hope for is 'freshening up', then we haven't actually achieved that much. This is still not PR, and our side should hold out for that. If AV gets through, we're hardly likely to have another major shake-up any time soon. Can we have the real thing, please?


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