Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Suspect Motives Behind Poll Plan

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Suspect Motives Behind Poll Plan

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER TROY

IF Gordon Brown gets his way next week, the United Kingdom's long-established voting system will change. MPs are being expected to vote on whether a referendum should be held on taking the first steps towards a fundamental change, which will mean that in future general elections - though not this year's - voters will be asked to rank candidates by preference, ie. 1, 2, 3, instead of putting a cross next to a name.

Should one candidate receive 50% or more of the vote then that candidate is the chosen victor. Should none win 50% on the first count then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes distributed to the other candidates.

Senior ministers have agreed to a proposed amendment to the Constitutional Renewal Bill that will offer voters a referendum by the autumn of 2011 on scrapping the first past the post system and replacing it with this alternative vote system.

The ease with which the Government have agreed to allow a national referendum on this voting change, but not on the hugely significant effects of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, begs the question as to what hidden benefit there is to the Labour Party to change the time honoured, first past the post system at this time; this measure was in the Labour Manifesto of 1997 but ignored ever since The answer is not far below the surface. Labour needs to placate the Liberal Democrats who for many decades have been pursuing electoral reform in the UK in the form of proportional representation. AV is not proportional representation and it is quite likely that, should there be a very large swing during an election to one or other party, it would exaggerate the majority that a winning party gets.

The smart money is on a hung Parliament after this year's general election. Should, as still remains possible, Labour remain as the largest party, but without an overall majority, it will need Lib Dem support in a pact reminiscent of 1978/9; more unstable government. …

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