Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Alternative Vote Battle Comes to a Head; Parties Set out Their Vision

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Alternative Vote Battle Comes to a Head; Parties Set out Their Vision

Article excerpt


TYNESIDE'S battle over the Alternative Vote referendum reaches its conclusion this week.

And nowhere in the North is the argument for and against the changes to the way we vote more visible than in North Tyneside.

There, Labour is fighting to become the largest group on the council, which will remain ultimately controlled by directly elected mayor Linda Arkley.

She has seen for herself the pros and cons of the alternative vote system used to elect a mayor in North Tyneside, and like many in the Conservative party she is campaigning for a 'no' vote in tomorrow's referendum.

The mayoral system is very similar to AV - if you get 51% you get elected straight away, if not then the second preference of the candidates with the lowest number of votes are counted.

In 2005 Labour's John Harrison beat Ms Arkley to the job despite coming second by 1,002 votes in the first count.

In 2009 Ms Arkley took control of the council, using second preferences. She was in the lead before then but did not have the 51% the rules say she needed.

Senior Tyneside Tory Michael McIntyre said his party had to live with knowing they "lost to a loser" because of the AV system.

He said: "What we have witnessed to our great costs is that the loser can end up winning under the alternative vote. John Harrison lost in the initial count but came first after that.

"It hung around his neck like a millstone. People were always saying how did we get this guy who did not win? Why would you want that for your MP? We all have a right to vote but we do not have a right to win. The party with the most votes should."

His Labour opponents are also beginning to question the AV system.

Labour group leader in North Tyneside Jim Allan said he would be voting 'no' in the referendum.

He said: "I'm not in favour of AV, I think first past the post is a fine system, and that's the one we should stick with.

"We've seen here how Linda Arkley was elected under AV. …

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