In May we have to vote on changing the way we elect our politicians. The choice we have is to continue with the current system of first past the post where the candidate with the most votes wins irrespective of what the percentage is or opt for an alternative arrangement that requires one candidate to have more than 50% of the votes.
In theory I’d like the winning candidate to have the confidence of at least half of the electorate in the ward. At the moment all that is required is a clear majority even if the turnout is very low. The problem with the alternative vote idea is that if any candidate fails to secure the magic 50% the lowest polling person is eliminated and their second choice preference comes into play. In practice this means that their vote will be allocated to another candidate. Now if you voted for the Labour or Conservatives candidate it is unlikely that your second choice will be the Liberal or vice versa. More likely you would place your unwanted cross in the box for a no hoper, but under this new method it is possible that the person who initially came fourth or worse might be elected.
I find it difficult to see how this would work in practice. The parties in the UK are so far apart politically that it is, in my opinion, unlikely that many people will tick a second or third choice. It is also very expensive. I can see that it could lead to more hung parliaments and more coalitions.
Because I want my vote to go to my choice of candidate and not some other person I will be voting against this when I place my cross on the ballot paper in the polling booth.
What we need to do is find a way of getting every person registered to vote. Perhaps you should be legally required to vote. Somehow we have to get the public interested in politics and the political process.
It is the same with strike ballots, if 90% of the total membership vote for something then you know they mean business. When it is 75% of the 35% of the members who bothered to vote then it is not a mandate for anything, it’s an indication of the lack of interest in the “cause”.
Apathy rules, more or less, in the UK. We need to get off our collective backsides and be counted otherwise you and I will have nothing to complain about when it all goes horribly wrong.