BOB Barnes writes that “a solid ‘no’ is the only way to keep our current democracy”. His rallying cry “if it ain’t broke, don’t mend it” fails to recognise the failure of politicians over recent years and of General Elections since the 1980s.
AV may not be perfect, but it is a much more democratic process than the existing flawed system. Here’s why:
AV is simple. Voters rank the candidates in order of preference – it’s as easy as 1,2,3 – and AV gives all voters an equal say in who comes first and who comes last. If your favourite doesn’t win and there is no clear winner then your vote is not wasted.
In Britain, millions of people in businesses, unions and charities already use AV; a tried and tested process. Political parties use it to elect their leaders, and MPs use it to elect their Speaker and officials.
When an election needs a real winner who will speak for the majority, AV is preferred. Indeed this is the process which elected David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, although he was not the most popular candidate in the first round.
Under AV our next MP would have to aim to get more than 50 per cent of the vote to be sure of winning. For decades too many MPs were elected with just one vote in three cast.
Prospective MP’s will need to work harder to win – and keep – our support. Many MPs will, for the first time, find that they can not take their constituents’ votes for granted. Safe seats, which discourage some constituents from voting, will be reduced in number.
AV keeps what works with our current system, constituency MPs, but eliminates many of its weaknesses. It’s a long overdue upgrade to make a 19th century system fit for today’s and tomorrow’s politics.
Bob Barnes claims that an AV election would take dozens of staff days to work out and be dramatically more expensive. There is no evidence for this. Yes, the count in each constituency where the leading candidate does not command 50 per cent support in round one will take longer: a small delay is a small price for improved democracy.
AV is straightforward and an improvement to our democracy. If someone wants to represent us, they will need the votes of the majority of our voting community. AV makes this happen, with preference voting ensuring that every vote counts.
I urge voters to consider the issues, research this topic, and I hope they will make vote ‘yes’ in the AV referendum.