A Referendum on changes to how we elect MPs will go ahead on 5 May, after opposition in the Lords collapsed. A Yes vote would replace the First Past the Post (FPTP) system with the Alternative Vote (AV).
Under AV, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If the favourite candidate fails to secure half the vote, the 2nd choices of voters who voted for the least favoured candidate are redistributed – a process which continues until a candidate wins 50 per cent or more.
AV is a pathetic attempt to give a democratic gloss to parliamentary elections in Britain, while the real issue is that in the past three general elections in a row the two main parties between them persuaded less than half of the electorate to support the two together. The party that “won” got fewer people to vote for it than did not vote at all.
AV is far less democratic than FPTP, which at least follows the principle of one person one vote and has the merit of clarity. Under AV some will effectively have more than one vote as their second etc preferences count.
The mass abstention of the British people in general elections (over a third in 2010) is an embarrassment to reviled politicians who wish to rule “in our name”. Winners under AV will claim over 50 per cent of the vote, even if they get fewer first choices than another candidate.