Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
The Alternative Vote has exposed the grubby little compromises at the heart of the coalition.
Nick Clegg gets his chance to become permanent kingmaker – in return the Tories get the biggest change to our electoral map for over a century without anyone casting a vote.
The Alternative Vote will not bring a Labour MP to the Labour voters of Guildford; nor will it bring Scottish Tory voters the MPs of their choice.
They will still cast what is wrongly called a wasted vote. If we want all votes to count equally, this isn’t our system.
Under the false promise of “great reform”, AV will offer some voters in some seats a minor difference to how their votes will be tallied.
At the moment MPs are elected by the first-past-the-post system, where the candidate getting the most votes in a constituency is elected.
On 5 May all registered UK voters will be able to vote Yes or No on whether to change the way MPs are elected to the Alternative Vote system.
Under the Alternative Vote system, voters rank candidates in their constituency in order of preference.
Anyone getting more than 50% of first-preference votes is elected.
If no-one gets 50% of votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their backers’ second choices allocated to those remaining.
This process continues until one candidate has at least 50% of all votes in that round.
But, in those seats, the second, third, or forth preferences of the supporters of the most unpopular parties will have as much weight as the 1st and often, only, preference of other voters.
As Winston Churchill once said, AV means “elections determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”.
AV does not bring you greater proportionality – and there is a tendency for parties to gang up on one of the major ones to run an “anyone but” campaign.
When one party is really unpopular, like the Conservatives in 1997, AV can really skew the result disproportionately against them.
First-past-the-post builds a direct relationship between a community and their MP. Residents come together to decide who most people want as their national representative. No one has more than one vote and it has to be cast responsibly.
The Alternative Vote is sectarian and self-serving and it will not improve people’s lives.
I will vote against AV – the grubby little compromise. And my second, third, fourth and fifth preferences will vote against it too.