Vote reformers welcome Miliband's commitment to push for AV

By staff writers
30 Sep 2010

Britain's political reformers have backed Ed Miliband's commitment to campaign for a change in Westminster's archaic electoral system.

Commenting on the new Labour leader's first address in that capacity to his party's conference, the director of Unlock Democracy, Peter Facey declared: "We warmly welcome Ed Miliband's speech, particularly his support for the Alternative Vote (AV) system in the upcoming referendum."

He continued: "We have heard warm words from new leaders before. However, we now have real optimism that words will finally lead to action.

"All three party leaders agree on an elected House of Lords. All three agree in localism and devolving powers to local councils," said Facey. "Now two out of the three leaders agree that the Alternative Vote is a better voting system than First Past the Post."

The Unlock Democracy director continued: "Over the past few years, trust in our politics has been badly damaged and strong leadership is needed if it is to be restored. This speech is a good start and we trust the Labour Party will join him in his wholehearted support for reform and vote Yes in the upcoming referendum."

Reformers would prefer a proportional voting system such as STV (Single Transferable Vote), but believe that AV can be used effectively as a staging post for change.

The campaigner and singer Billy Bragg also welcomed Miliband's commitment and has made a video to encourage grassroots activists to get behind the AV vote.

Labour's new leader identified political reform and civil liberties as two policy areas where the party needed to modernise in order not to lose a march on their opponents.

Many senior Labour figures have been holding out against electoral reform, but Miliband wants to draw them in a different, more positive direction.

Greens and Liberal Democrats are also set to campaign for a change in the voting system for Westminster, but the Conservatives will oppose it.

The nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales will favour reform too, but are reluctant to get drawn into defining arguments about the UK system, preferring to concentrate on issues in their own country and their respective cases for independent governance.

[Ekk/3]

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