Cllr David Kendall: Why I am voting YES to AV on 5th May

April 22, 2011 8:00 PM

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On 5th May, Brentwood residents will have a choice between a fairer voting system to elect MPs to Westminster and keeping the current voting system. If you want to see change, vote YES TO AV. If you don't vote No. It's as simple as that.

At present only 33% of the MPs elected at the last General Election had the support of the majority of the people they were seeking to represent. Here in Brentwood & Ongar Eric Pickles was one of them gaining over 53% of the vote and as the candidate who came second I fully accept that he would have still been the local MP with or without the Alternative Vote.

Personally I would like to see greater reform than AV but AV is all we have on offer and it is certainly better than what we have at the moment. If the opportunity is lost on May 5 then the chance to make our voting system fairer in this country could be lost forever.

We already use a form of proportional representation in the UK to elect politicians in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. The London Assembly and the European Parliament. Why should voters electing MPs to Westminster be denied a fairer system? However two thirds of our MPs were elected with less than 50% of the vote. That means many people are represented by an MP that the majority didn't vote for. In my view this is fundamentally undemocratic.

Cllr David Kendall, Prospective Parliamentary CandidateToo many MPs act as if they have a job for life. They are protected by a cosy voting system that makes it harder for voters to vote them out. That is one of the reasons we had the expenses scandal and corruption that has seen some MP's sent to prison. I believe we need a system where those people who seek to represent us need to aim to gain the support of 50% of their communities. That is what AV the alternative vote will force MPs to do. MPs will need to try and get a majority of votes in their constituencies. They will have to work harder and reach out to all of their communities beyond their core vote.

When you look at who is supporting the NO campaign you start to get a bit concerned. It's not just most Conservatives, old guard Labour but also the BNP and the Communists. Here in Brentwood when the Tories put in a motion against AV for debate at the Town Hall they were seconded by the sole Labour councillor. It seems that AV was a good enough system to elect the Labour leader but not good enough for the people of Brentwood.

AV is one person one vote. It allows people to express their preferences. Put simply if you go into a café and they don't have your first choice of drink, or your second, but they have your third choice you haven't had three drinks but you've expressed your preferences. Under first past the post you get one preference and if they don't have what you want you get nothing.

Cllr David Kendall

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate - Brentwood & Ongar 2010 General Election