Green Party leader says real voting reform is an absolute must

By staff writers
8 May 2010

Any party arrangement for governing Britain must involve a referendum on PR, and Nick Clegg should not be seduced by the trappings of power, says new Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Dr Lucas, who is also leader of the Green Party in England and Wales, and at present an elected member of the European Parliament, issued her statement in the light of the current "uncharted waters" of a hung parliament - the first in the UK since 1974 - and the present negotiations between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

The newly elected member for Brighton Pavilion, Britain's first Green MP, excepting a Plaid Cymru MP who was elected in 1992 with Green support, also backed the 'Take back Parliament' (http://www.takebackparliament.com/hope) call for a people's referendum on Proportional Representation.

Dr Lucas dismissed the Alternative Vote (AV) system, which is backed by some in the Labour Party, and by conservative reformists in the Tory Party, like PR-opponent Phillip Blond of the wealthy thinktank Res Publica. She said it was "even less proportional" than first-past-the-post which denies millions a say in who governs them.

But Lucas added: "The people should be asked what voting system they would prefer. That is proper democracy."

Former Tory MP and media commentator Michael Portillo said on television last night (7 May) that Tories had less to fear from real PR than they thought.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas' statement reads, in full:

"These are uncharted waters for all politicians. But this only makes it more important that Nick Clegg makes his decisions based on the clear steer given to him by voters.

"In this election, the British people have brought in a House of Commons in which a majority of MPs are from parties which support reform. A clear majority of people in the United Kingdom voted for reform of our political system.

"Therefore, any arrangement between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives must include genuine and comprehensive reform of the political system.

"A commission, inquiry, or any other delaying tactic will not be acceptable. There should be a referendum before the end of the year which includes options for a genuinely proportional system, not the self-serving system of AV, which is even less proportional. The people should be asked what voting system they would prefer. That is proper democracy.

"The first-past-the-post system has created a situation where people cannot vote positively for the candidate, or party, whose policies they most agree with. Instead, they are forced to vote in fear, working out how to vote to keep out the party furthest away from them in policy and values. This leaves us a grotesque democratic deficit and a poor basis on which to govern.

"The Liberal Democrats must not be seduced by the trappings of power. The people have voted for reform: Nick Clegg must not betray them."

[Ekk/3]

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