In two weeks time, we get the first chance to fundamentally change our political system since universal adult suffrage was achieved in the 1940s – when domestic servants were enfranchised, and Oxbridge types lost their two votes.
I have already said that given the two choices on offer, I back AV over no change, and as the campaigns draw to a close, it is time to re-state my reasons…
Firstly, as some opponents of AV have already commented elsewhere, First Past The Post is manifestly undemocratic. Most governments do not represent will of the people by votes cast, let alone the total electorate. In the 1980s, taking the whole electorate, The Tories won no more than 36% of possible votes at any election. The same applies to New Labour, and to this Coalition. Only 217 out of 650 MPs returned in 2010 had over 50% of the vote.
Secondly, the great, and largely ignored seat theft that this Government is perpetrating against you and I. Regardless of how we vote in the Referendum, 50 seats will be axed, at a stroke making our established political class stronger, and also more distant from us. The only measure within our power right now to even slightly ameliorate this would be to make sure that every MP needed at least 50% of the votes cast in their constituency. That would be AV.
Thirdly, if passed, AV would give impetus to Lords Reform – lets kick the unelected into touch.
AV is just a start, and we could further modify the system to create a more proportional one after the barriers to reform come down.
AV is no block to radical reform – it is radical reform.
Look at those who back the current system – Press Barons, The Tax Payers Alliance (led by a non-dom), and Tories, with conservative New Labourites and a smattering of Blairites.
I would like to see a system where every MP has to reach out beyond the usual middle class middle ground of voters – with AV, not only second preferences but voter registration and participation become key.
I urge you all to think hard about this – we need a better way, and a better Government.