Voting for a change

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Responding to the success of the Vote Match website in the 2010 General Election campaign, Simon Barrow, co-director of the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia, said:

"Vote Match, along with the hung parliament initiative Hang 'Em (http://hang-em.com/), is one of a range of web-based tools which is helping to change the electoral landscape in Britain, along with the seismic shifts we have been seeing since the first Leaders' Debate.

"With the corporate parties keen to claim a continuing monopoly on power, whether there are two or three of them, persuading people to think, vote and participate differently and creatively is vital. Democracy has to be renewed and improved from the ground up. That is why a hung parliament is so vital: it will force the monopolists into a position where they will have to change to survive.

"Likewise, votes for the Greens, for the SNP, for Plaid Cymru, for other smaller parties and independents - excluding the racists and xenophobes, of course - can only help build the pluralism and vibrant political alternatives which are so lacking at the moment.

"Vote Match, Hang 'Em and vote-swapping sites can be used to ensure that votes are not wasted, in spite of the appalling unfairness of the non-proportional, first-past-the-post system.

"It is important to understand that underneath the 'big party' dominated Westminster poll is an 'ethics election' which revolves around issues that many politicians want to avoid - economic justice, deep environmental and lifestyle change, the elimination of poverty, radical political reform, handling migration with hospitality and humanity, and many other concerns.

"But 'Voting for a change' is possible, if people refuse the limited choices the party machines are trying to impose - and recognise that a balanced ('hung') parliament could open up a real way forward."