This is a Referendum on First Past the Post

The referendum on voting systems scheduled for 5th May 2011 is as much a referendum on First Past the Post as it is on the Alternative Vote. 

I am a member of the Yes to Alternative Vote Campaign.  You could describe the No Campaign as the Yes to First Past the Post campaign. It is up to them to demonstrate that the voting system we have ended up with as a historical accident is actually better than the Alternative Vote system.

First Past the Post is often described as “tried and tested” and “traditional”.  One description of it that does not apply is legitimatised by the elecorate. First Past the Post has never received a popular mandate. No one has ever voted in for First Past the Post. First Past the Post does not have some god-given right to be the voting system we use to elect our representatives.

The British people have never been asked to endorse an electoral system.  They are not being asked to change their mind, turn away from good old First Past the Post and chose the Alternative Vote instead. This is the first time our opinion has been sought. Both sides in the campaign should start their arguments from a blank slate.

Several attempts at changing the voting system have been made before. A Speaker’s Conference in 1917 recommended a change to the Single Transferable Vote with the Alternative Vote emerging as a compromise before the whole bill failed. In 1931 an attempt by the minorty Labour government to introduce Alternative Vote failed when the government fell. Between those two attempts were a number of private members bills in favour of either Single Transferable Vote or Alternative Vote.  Voting reform is not a new issue in UK politics. 

In all of this the British people have never been asked which voting system they would like.  This referendum is as much about First Past the Post proving itself as it is about the Alternative Vote.

So far I’ve not heard much said in favour of First Past the Post. I’ve heard the No Campaign point out some of the issues with the Alternative Vote. I’ve heard them explain how the Alternative Vote is not as good as Proportional Representation.  I’ve certainly heard them try to tar the Yes Campaign by associating us with fascists and communists. I’ve yet to hear them advance a strong coherent case for First Past the Post.

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About fairervotesedinburgh

The unofficial blog for the Yes to Fairer Votes Campaign in Edinburgh. All views expressed are our own and do not necessisarily represent the views of the official Yes to Fairer Votes organisation
This entry was posted in Arguments for and Against, For and Against, Yes to AV. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to This is a Referendum on First Past the Post

  1. dave thawley says:

    I totally agree with you. The No campaign is run by ‘yes to keeping the gravy train going’ (yes to FPTP) people. They want the system the same because it is better for them and not us. They seem to be able to con some people who are now supporting them. I honestly believe these supporters are doing so because they don’t really understand the truth. I’ve come to this conclusion by reading their blogs and comments which contain only partial truths which are always distorted to give an incorrect picture. This is a fight for our future. We have one chance of getting this chance which will benefit everyone (unless you are a corrupt mps or a millionaire that is). Well done for flying the flag

    If people don’t know the facts and want to find out go to the electoral reform society website. The ERS are recognised independent (I believe all main parties and a lot of unions etc. use their election organisation wing because they know this). FPTP is broke and no longer fit for purpose – I’m going to vote to turbocharge my vote by saying yes to AV next year – please find out all the facts because I know if you do you will be joining me .

  2. Pingback: Shades of ’79 – “If less than 40% of the electorate vote in the referendum, the result shall not be binding” | fairervotesedinburgh

  3. Pingback: The Advantages of the Alternative Vote System – An Overview | fairervotesedinburgh

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