The upcoming referendum on the Alternative Vote is an opportunity for us all in Cornwall to demand a fairer voting system. There is a great danger however that the referendum will become one on the Liberal Democrats, and indeed Nick Clegg, and not on a better electoral system – no small matter. Or there is the danger it becomes a vote on Devonwall, something it certainly isn’t. The result of the AV referendum will have no bearing on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, which has now of course passed. Instead the vote on May 5th is a chance to ensure our MPs work harder for our votes, have majority support in their constituencies, while keeping out extreme parties such as the BNP; one reason why they are in the ‘No to AV’ camp. On the other hand, as welcome as it would be for socialist candidates to get elected, it isn’t particularly likely under AV or FPTP, so sticking with the current system isn’t going to help anyone on the left.
But the main reason I’m supporting the Alternative Vote on the 5th May is because, as a student, I want my first general election vote to count, and I want to be able to vote honestly, without having to vote tactically as many are under First Past the Post. Being both a young person and a (very left) Labour supporter in Cornwall, I’m firmly anti-Lib Dem. But this referendum is a once in a lifetime opportunity to revitalise politics. Students: vote Yes on the 5th May and make what limited power young people have – the vote – count.
One step forward is better than standing still.
[This is an amended version of a letter for the West Briton]