Despite news from Andy Burnham saying Labour will not be campaigning for AV in the referendum in 6 months time, Labour members can campaign how they like, though the party is fairly divided in terms of Alternative Vote/First Past the Post support.
With the FPTP campaign way ahead with a large lead, we will need to campaign hard to ensure a fairer electoral system will be in place before the 2015 general election (earlier if the coalition collapses). Our current system has candidates winning on 30% of the vote – meaning the majority vote against the winner. But more importantly, it means voters too often have vote for the party they did not wish to support, in order to prevent their least preferred candidate winning. This is simply not acceptable in a democratic system. Voters should be able to vote for who they want, and to have a choice. Tactical voting rarely generates anyone’s ideal outcome.
Young Labour members in the South West largely support AV, in the conversations I’ve had with fellow Young Labour-ites. Vested interests are putting all they can into maintaining the status quo in terms of the electoral system, when the status quo is frankly broken and archaic.
This has nothing to do with party politics. We must forget that the Lib Dems support the AV yes vote. Labour supported AV in the 2010 manifesto, and even the Conservatives promised to review the electoral system. This is about what is the better system – now is the time to take a small step, closer towards proportional representation. If we don’t now, we may be stuck with first-past-the-post for decades to come.