First Past the Post clearly isn’t working, there is something unmistakably wrong with it when elections are decided by around only 10,000 people in key marginal seats.
FPTP may have been a good system in the 1950’s when we only had two parties vying for power, but this is no longer the case. People no longer vote for just the two parties. The student voice is being ignored under the current system. A lot of first time voters at last year’s election will be disillusioned that their vote didn’t count as much as the vote of someone in a marginal seat.
Students are seen as idealists; AV isn’t the ideal, it isn’t proportional, I agree. But compared to what we have currently it is definitely a big improvement. It retains one of the few positives of FPTP which is the single member constituency link but gives people more of a say.
AV will ensure that MPs have to work harder because they have to aim to gain 50% of the vote or more to be elected. MPs won’t be able to rely on their core supporters to help return them to power. Under the current system some MPs are elected with less than 30% of the vote. This means that more than two thirds of the electorate are ignored, many of whom are students.
It will mean that MPs will have to think twice before using tax payer’s money to buy duck houses and moats. It will mean that they will have to think twice before voting for a rise in tuition fees, they will have to think twice before making cuts to our education and they will have to think twice before going to war.
You may ask why now? Why when we face huge cuts to our education are we holding a referendum? Holding them at the same time as the local elections saves money. It is also an issue that has for two long been put on the back burner by politicians. Tony Blair failed to carry out his promise on the issue and the Conservative Party is against it. Time and time again we see a party that campaigns to change the status quo in opposition but give them the reigns of power and suddenly the system is perfect (funny that).
The No side go around saying that AV is complicated, but that is an insult to the intelligence of the British people. The electorate are more than capable of numbering candidates in order of preference. As for the amount it will cost to bring in AV according to the No side well that’s a figure plucked out of thin air, and a lie is a lie.
It won’t cost £250 million, we don’t need vote counting machines, and the cost of the referendum stays the say whether you vote Yes or No. The treasury has also produced a letter saying that the cost of the next election if held under AV will be the same as the last election held under FPTP.
AV won’t let extremist parties such as the BNP in. They will have to gain 50% of the vote to be elected. Under FPTP they can be elected with less than 30% of the vote in some seats. AV will raise the bar and lock out extremists. It is, according to You Gov pollster Peter Kellner, “the most extremist proof of all electoral systems”.
This referendum may not be at the forefront of every students mind, a lot of us have assignment deadlines on the first week of May and exams are not far off, but this is our future at stake. It is our chance to decide the way we elect MPs to govern on our behalf. If you want to shake up the system vote Yes, if you want to maintain status quo and let people in power continue to make cuts to our education then vote No.