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The alternative vote: It’s good enough for politicians

by markjohnston on 14 February, 2011

The following article by Elliott Folan originally appeared on the Yes to Fairer Votes website:

“I’m writing this in the middle of an election campaign for the UK Youth Parliament, but today I’m taking time off and I’m reflecting on how I got here.

In May 2010, I got involved in the first ever general election of my teenage life. And it was the most unfair election in our history. Two thirds of MPs were elected with less than half the vote in their constituencies – an historic high. All three MPs near me have only minority support from their constituents. Whichever way you look at it, we don’t have the Parliament that most people voted for.
That’s a disgrace.

We hear a lot about corrupt politicians who don’t listen and about the promises they break. And politicians claim they’re taking action, but those in Westminster won’t admit that they’re only scratching the surface.
The root of the problem is the political culture itself. When MPs keep getting in again and again, even when majorities oppose them, that’s a recipe for political apathy.
The Alternative Vote is a simple change, but one that can turn around our broken politics. Making votes count, forcing MPs to gather the support from the majority of the voters, giving more choice to the public: these are things that will change the whole roadmap of our politics.
But the greatest nerve that our politicians have is to use the Alternative Vote for electing their own and yet not let us use it.
MPs pick their committee chairs by AV. The leaders of Labour and the Lib Dems were elected by AV. Many party political candidates are chosen by AV. And as revealed recently, vacant spaces in the House of Lords are filled by using AV.
Even when they don’t use AV, there’s one system they never pick. That ‘tried and tested’ favourite – First Past the Post.
Yet many politicians either cry that the current system works, or that the Alternative Vote doesn’t go far enough – when they know full well that FPTP doesn’t work, because they would never, ever use it themselves.
For the first time in history – May 5, 2011 – we have the chance to give a good kicking to all those complacent politicians. We need the chance to kick them out of their safe seats so we can shake them out of their complacency.
Parliament belongs to us. So let’s take it back.”
Elliot Folan is a candidate for the UK Youth Parliament in the London borough of Barnet

Also: What’s Good about AV? and other pages (see right hand column).

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