Democracy campaigners have welcomed the news that MPs will be asked to debate an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to enable a referendum on changing the electoral system to the Alternative Vote - but want to see a more effective and proportional option
Peter Facey, director of Unlock Democracy, said yesterday (1 February 2010): "We welcome the fact that the government has, at last, come off the fence on this issue. A manifesto commitment to a referendum on electoral reform without legislation to back it up would have been an empty gesture, especially given Labour's track record in reneging on such pledges in the past. We regret however, that the system on offer has been handpicked by ministers rather than as a result of a deliberative process involving the public and we are concerned that they have not left themselves with enough time to ensure this Bill receives Royal Assent before Parliament is dissolved."
Facey continued: "Unlock Democracy will continue to make the case for a proportional electoral system. The Alternative Vote system is [not a] proportional system, although it does offer greater choice for the voter and will require all MPs to acquire the support of at least half of their constituents. It is a step in the right direction but what we need is a system that reflects the votes cast across the country. We now live in a multi-party democracy, as chosen by the voters over successive elections, but our system does not reflect that."
The Unlock Democracy CEO observed: "The Conservatives are now the only party committed to maintaining the existing, broken, first past the post voting system. Their continued failure to embrace the need for electoral reform damages the credibility of their claims to be a party of 'change'. After years of scandal and voter alienation, we simply can’t go on like this."
Unlock Democracy is a leading UK campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms. It was formed in 2007 and is the successor organisation to Charter 88 and the New Politics Network. It is part of the Power 2010 coalition, which also includes Ekklesia.
You can vote here on the top five ideas that will become the Power 2010 Pledge - the backbone of a nationwide campaign for political change and reform at the next election: http://www.power2010.org.uk/votes