Monday, 2 May 2011

Fur will fly on AV in Mapesbury Tomorrow

Mapesbury Residents Association holds its AGM tomorrow and top of the bill is a debate between Cllr Ann John, Labour leader of Brent Council and Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the Lib Dem councillors, on Alternative Voting. Ann John and most of her colleagues have rejected Ed Miliband's stance in favour of a YES vote in Thursday's referendum and have publicly urged residents to vote NO. Little has been heard of any Labour dissenters from the John line - she is not well know for letting a hundred flowers bloom!. List of Labour Councillors opposing AV HERE

The current London Green News which we are distributing locally, urges people to 'Vote YES to fairer votes' with a message from Green MEP Jean Lambert saying 'This is an opportunity to move away from our out-dated unfair voting system'.  Greens are in favour of proportional representation and we were frustrated when the other parties blocked our proposal to have PR included in the referendum. At our autumn conference last year members voted to support a YES vote on the basis that AV was an improvement on the present first past the post system, albeit not our first choice.

The argument is that AV will enable people to make a positive vote for the party that they really support. This is a message from Caroline Lucas, Green MP and leader of the Green Party:
Under AV, voters rank candidates 1, 2, 3, etc. People can vote 1 for their first choice candidate, safe in the knowledge that their vote can still count just as strong for their second choice if their preferred candidate is not successful.

AV will therefore reduce tactical voting. This would be a good thing for the Green Party and for our democracy as a whole. It could have a significant impact on the way the big parties and the media approach elections. If people are voting positively, rather than negatively, parties and the media are likely to focus more on ideas rather than the political 'race'.

A Yes vote will also send a clear message to the Government that people want political reform. It will make further reforms, such as an elected upper chamber and voting reform for local elections, more likely. A No vote could set back political reforms by decades as the political establishment would be able to claim that there is no public appetite for reform - which we know is not true.

A No vote is primarily being pushed by the Conservatives, the right of the Labour Party and the BNP. Let's be on the side of progress in this referendum. Let's take the opportunity to make this small but important change to the voting system and send a clear message that we need political reform.

We urge you to vote Yes on Thursday and spread the message to your friends, family and collagues.

We had a good discussion on AV at a recent Brent Green Party meeting and although there was no 'split' there were inevitably differences in terms of enthusiasm for the option being offered. Central to the discussion was a concern that AV could lead to a soggy consensus politics that would blunt the cutting edge of the radical policies needed to combat the real issues facing us such as the need to restructure the economy and to combat climate change. On the other hand increased Green representation would mean that the arguments on these issues could reach a wider audience and our support in a finely balanced result could be decisive.

I will be voting YES on Thursday but won't be cartwheeling into the polling booth!

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