The present ‘first past the post’ voting system has enabled many MPs to occupy their constituencies for years on end without any real threat of removal in a general election.
These so-called ‘safe seats’ mean that many MPs remain in Parliament for years and years without any need whatsoever to take any notice of the wishes of their constituents. Hardly surprising when under the present system many MPs can be elected after winning only 3 out of every 10 votes cast.
Although the Alternative Vote system will not put an end to the practice entirely, it will severely limit the chances of ‘safe seats’ being created. Under AV, MPs would be forced to listen to their constituents more, not only at the time of an election but also during their tenure as a Member of Parliament. No longer would MPs have a job for life together with a still very generous expense system which we pay for.
In tomorrow’s referendum on the Westminster voting system, there are essentially two choices:
You can vote “No” and continue to be totally ignored by your MP, probably for years or you can vote “Yes” and force your MP to take more notice of what you feel and what you as an individual consider to be important.
The biggest advantage of AV – and this is why the Conservative party are so frightened of it – is the fact that it gives smaller parties a much bigger say in how the country is run.
This also means that both new blood and new ideas are introduced into Parliament, thus ridding Britain of the ongoing political pantomime where we see two parties go into an election proclaiming how much they hate each other and then watching the winning party act in exactly the same way as their opposition would have behaved had they won power.
In the last general election, just 460,000 votes decided the outcome. There were so many ‘safe’ seats that under the current system, no other votes really made much difference.
The proof that AV would make the voting system more representative of the views of ordinary people can be seen in the fact that the ‘No’ campaign has had to resort to making ridiculous and dishonest claims about AV leading to sick babies and dying soldiers. This blatant and disgusting lying by those opposed to AV has eventually caused David Cameron to try to distance himself from the ‘No’ campaign, claiming that it was nothing to do with him.
One only needs to look at the government of Tony Blair to see just how similar it really was to the right wing Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, something that would have been impossible under AV. Indeed, Blair openly admitted that many of his attitudes and his policies were both influenced and strengthened by those of Margaret Thatcher. The Term ‘ New Labour’ might better have been translated as ‘ neo-Conservative’ as many of Blair’s policy decisions would not have been out of place were they to have been made by a right-wing Conservative government.
A criticism of AV is that it could well lead to more hung parliaments and the necessity of further coalition governments. TheOpinionSite.org believes however that this would not be a bad thing at all.
As it is, we have already seen how the Conservative party have returned to their old right wing doctrines and how they have assumed control of the government, largely ignoring the policies of the Liberal Democrats whilst at the same time putting Nick Clegg into the front line where he has taken most of the flak. Were there to be a real chance of not being in power for years and years, they would have to think and act very differently.
In many constituencies throughout Britain, the Conservative party has held the seat for over 80 years. The new boundary changes that come into force later in the year are, under the present system, also likely to favour the Conservatives even more and thus further increase their chance of dominating politics for the foreseeable future. Is it any wonder then that the Conservative party are so vehemently against the alternative vote system?
The Labour Party do not relish being in opposition for 18 years either, something that at present is a very real possibility. It is true however that many Labour MPs are also in the ‘ jobs for life club’ and have as a consequence joined the “No” campaign. They have no more wish for a change in the voting system than do their Conservative counterparts who are also worried about losing their seat on the everlasting political gravy train.
As TheOpinionSite.org has pointed out previously, this is a once in a generation chance to change the voting system and to change politics in Britain for the better. Fear of change is no excuse to ignore this wonderful opportunity. Ignorance of politics in general is no excuse either.
Unfortunately, unlike many European states, Britain does not teach its children about politics, which effectively ensures that by the time they become adults they have absolutely no idea how politics functions in Britain and consequently have very little interest in it as they get older.
The endless cycle of Conservative versus Labour also perhaps understandably makes politics boring for many people.
This deliberate policy of maintaining political ignorance is not peculiar to one party or the other as both Labour and Conservative governments have been guilty of perpetuating public ignorance in politics since the end of the Second World War and possibly even before that. As a result, people cannot be bothered to vote, even though politics affects every aspect of their lives, whether they like it or not.
Nevertheless, if you vote tomorrow in the referendum on the voting system, regardless of how you may vote in the local elections, remember this:
If you vote “No” to AV, you are consigning Britain to many more years of the tortuous and harmful politics that we have seen for the last 100 years or so and which keeps the rich in power whilst they exploit the rest of us. If you’re happy with that, then you should vote “No”.
If however you are dissatisfied with the cheating and lying of politicians, as demonstrated for example by the appalling lies put out by those who do not want a change in the voting system, then you should vote “Yes”.
If you do not vote “Yes” tomorrow, you will have no business moaning about the inadequacies and the fraudulent nature of MPs when they go back to their old ways as a result of feeling secure once again.
As the Independent newspaper put it so well and so simply on its front page today, “Just Say Yes”. If you do that, TheOpinionSite.org believes that politics in Britain will change for the better – and change significantly