Lisa Hellawell says that it is claimed “that AV would prevent governments with less than 50% of the vote”. I don’t think anyone has ever made that claim! It’s just that AV is fairer than First-Past-the-Post.
It means that in any single constituency if one candidate has more votes than the others put together, then they are elected.
At last year’s general election two-thirds of MPs lacked majority support (including both Calderdale MPs), the highest number in British political history.
AV penalises extremist parties like the BNP (which is why they oppose it), as they are unlikely to gain many second-preference votes. Indeed, it encourages candidates to work harder to seek second- and third-preferences, rather than being blindly partisan. Thus so lessening the need for negative campaigning and rewarding broad-church.
Our current system is broken, and while it may have worked 100 years ago when a few million voters had to choose between just two parties, it’s had its day.
In 1951, the Tories and Labour gained 97% of the votes cast, by last year, this had dropped to just 65%.
One-in-three seats have elected the same party since WW2, and one-in-ten the same one since the Great War. Most astonishingly, 31 constituencies have returned someone with blue rosette since the time of Queen Victoria.
This leads to complacency on behalf of some MPs who see it as a job for life, and probably contributed to the expenses scandal.
While I’d prefer some form of proportional representation, like STV, AV would help restore the balance of power in favour of voter, and be one small step towards fairer votes.
Had we had AV at the last General Election the results would have been something like: Conservatives 280 seats, Labour 260 seats, and Lib Dems 80 seats.
I admit AV is “not perfect”, but it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Councillor Nader Fekri
(Lib Dem, Calderdale MBC)