04 May 2011

Andy Slaughter MP says vote Yes to AV and stop the Tory money men

In this extract from his latest constituency newsletter, Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, explains why he'll be voting Yes to AV

Last year the Tories tried to buy the election in Hammersmith. They spent half a million aching to get their candidate elected. More than any other constituency in the UK – ever. One reason they took the risk is that they knew they only had to get about 40% of the vote. Getting the extra 10% of ‘floating’ vote to give an actual majority would cost a lot more. It’s one reason the whole Tory Party is behind the status quo – they thrive on well-primed minorities rather than open-minded majorities

And so of course when Cameron thought he was losing the referendum debate he put the Tory money men into the ‘No’ campaign – 97% of the supposedly all-party ‘No’ vote funds come from Tory donors.

Too late, Clegg and co. have woken up to the fact that their Coalition partners play dirty.  First past the post can let extremists into power - like the Hammersmith Tories, which is why I'm happy to work Merlene Emerson and the local Lib Dems to campaign for a fairer system.

I see some risk with fully proportional systems – frivolous or extremist candidates slipping under the bar, unstable governments and the loss of the constituency link – but AV seems to me a win-win system. You keep a local MP but one who has to prove he or she can represent a broader range of constituents. It means fewer of those complacent, detached, born-to-rule MPs who have safe seats for life. It means everyone gets the opportunity to vote both for their preferred candidate in the heats and in the final. No one forces you to express a second preference but if you do your vote is only counted once in the final reckoning.

So the Tories want to continue to get elected on a minority vote, and change constituency boundaries to give them maximum advantage. At this rate they won’t have to gerrymander Hammersmith with their estate demolition plans to get elected.

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