Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AJ supports AV (plus)

Article by Alan Johnson in the Times a few days ago supporting a referendum on General Election Day over whether we introduce a form of top up of seats in order to produce a form of proportionality as well as maintaining the constituency link.

I think this is a once in a generation chance to put electoral reform before voters in a referendum. Doing so on the day of the next general election has the added advantage of not messing up the next period of government where such changes tend to be conveniently forgotten.

The point is this - why not give people the choice of systems - if first past the post wins in a referendum then it will have been backed by the people and will have renewed legitimacy. When people criticise its sometimes bizarre outcomes then we can reference it to a decision taken by the voters.

Bizarre outcomes under our current system include losing the election in votes but winning the most seats; coming second in votes but being a distant 3rd in seats; having a minority of the vote but a potentially huge majority in Parliament.

My personal view is I would support AVplus (the system devised by Roy Jenkins whereby you vote for constituency MP's by preference vote - i.e. by 'alternative vote' (AV - also known as instant run-off and used successfully in Australia) - and a further vote for top up candidates on a PR 'top up' basis).

But in any case we should at least let the people decide.

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