On May 5th, the people of Britain will get the chance in a referendum to vote for the change in the way we elect our Members of Parliament.
In the referendum, we have been asked whether we would like to switch from First Past The Post, the current system, towards the more proportional Alternative Vote.
Unfortunately, despite significant press coverage of the referendum, public response has been ranged from almost total indifference to outright cynicism. It is as if the campaigns both for and against change have been shouting effectively at each other, rather than putting their arguments to the public.
I will certainly be voting for change on May 5th. AV may not be as proportional as Single Transferable Vote (the preferred method campaigned for by the Liberal Democrats in the past), but it’s fairer than what we have at the moment. If change is adopted, people would, for example, be able to vote for a genuine candidate of their choice, rather than tactically for their least worst in order to oust a sitting MP as they are forced to do at present.
Most other countries have a proportional systems for electing politicians. In most cases, political parties would have to forge alliances to form governments, unlike in Britain. The late, unlamented Labour government had ruled with just over a quarter of total votes cast, and were able to push through unpopular policies. Electoral reform would reduce the mantra for minority one-party rule.
In all, adopting AV should be the first step in helping to improve the way the country is governed in future. We need to overcome both fear and cynicism to ensure that this happens.