Voters Should Seize This Chance for Electoral Reform
A referendum on changing the voting system was the biggest prize that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats wrested from the Conservatives in return for their agreement to join the Coalition. Had he not made this concession, David Cameron would have been forced to lead a minority government or - less likely, given the electoral arithmetic - to stand by as the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with Labour.
With the date for the referendum now formally set - 5 May next year - the question formulated - "Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the 'alternative vote' system instead of the current 'first past the post' system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?" - and a minor Lords rebellion seen off, Mr Cameron has honoured his part of the bargain. The onus is now on the Liberal Democrats, as the most fervent supporters of reform, to pick up the baton.
Aside from the frisson that surrounded the House of Lords vote - the objection was linked to the fact that the Bill dealt not just with the referendum, but with reducing the number of MPs and equalising the size of constituencies - other hitches have cropped up. There have been fierce objections from some, especially in Scotland, that the vote will take place on the same day as devolved elections. And now the date of the royal wedding ensures a major distraction the week before. The Government has, rightly, stood firm.
The two sides are now forming their campaign teams, with the "No" supporters first out of the blocks. They boast five Labour veterans, including Margaret Beckett, who will be president of the campaign, David Blunkett and Lord …
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Publication information: Article title: Voters Should Seize This Chance for Electoral Reform. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 27, 2010. Page number: 42. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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