February 2011: Voting Reform

Thank you to everyone who took part in my most recent e-consultation:

Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the “alternative vote” system instead of the current “first past the post” system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?

It’s clear from the responses I’ve received that there is a desire to see the existing electoral system changed. With more than 350 votes almost two thirds of those who voted said they would like to see AV implemented.

  • 62% in favour of AV
  • 38% against the change to AV

Those who voted yes saw it as a much better alternative to the current system and common arguments included:

  • First past the post (FPTP) is outdated
  • FPTP encourages tactical voting which is a negative approach to democracy
  • AV gives smaller parties the opportunity to have a real chance in constituencies where there has been one-party domination for years
  • MPs would have to work harder to keep their seats and ‘safe’ seats with MPs in jobs for life would be reduced

Despite the strong preference for AV, there was a significant number of people who voted to keep the current first past the post system and their arguments included:

  • AV is not fully proportional and there is no point changing our system unless it is for a completely proportional model
  • Cost of the AV referendum
  • Complexity of AV
  • AV has failed in other countries

The Electoral Commission has published a booklet giving impartial information on the elections and Parliamentary voting system, including a factual description of Alternative Vote (AV) and First Past the Post (FPTP). BBC News Politics has another useful guide to the Alternative Vote.

Many thanks to everyone who voted, and particularly to those who replied with comments. The Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill was passed on Tuesday 15 February and a referendum will take place to vote on potential changes to our voting system on May 5 2011.

It will be interesting to see how the UK voteson this, and whether East Dunbartonshire’s views match the rest of the country!

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