It’s make your mind up time on AV poll

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IT’S a controversial scheme which could have changed the outcome of last year’s General Election.

Now it’s time to make your mind up on whether the Alternative Vote system should be brought in to revolutionise voting in the UK.

The referendum on Thursday will ask people whether they would like to keep our current system, First Past the Post, or change to the Alternative Vote.

Under FPTP, voters cast a single vote, and the candidate with the highest percentage wins the seat.

But critics say the system is unfair, as MPs can be elected even though 60 to 70 per cent of people have voted against them.

Under AV, voters people can choose candidates in order of preference.

A seat is won only by the person who wins 50 per cent of the vote, and if voters’ ‘first preferences’ fail to deliver, the person with fewest votes is eliminated and their second preferences are redistributed.

This continues until one candidate reaches 50 per cent.

The Institute for Public Policy Research, used a poll of voters immediately after the last election, which shows the Tories would have taken 285 seats under AV.

Under First Past the Post in May, they won 307.

Labour took 258 seats last May and would have won 248, but the Lib Dems would have taken 89, 32 more than their result under the current system.

After the general election a year ago, Labour and Lib Dem MPs said they couldn’t have formed a stable coalition, as they would have needed to rely on smaller parties’ votes in Parliament.

Under AV, they could have combined to take power.

Guy Lodge, IPPR’s associate director, said: ‘Voters want more choice in their politics and are far less tribal than they once were.

‘Shifts in voting patterns strongly challenge the basic assumption of First Past the Post, which is that voters are only interested in expressing a single sacrosanct first preference. In fact voters are happy to express a range of preferences – certainly up to and including a third choice.’

No results would have changed in our region, according to the IPPR report, but Portsmouth Yes to AV campaigner Peter Facey said: ‘This shows AV is an upgrade to our political system. It’s evolution, not revolution. As it comes in, people’s views on how to vote will change.

‘They will have much more confidence to vote for what they believe, not just to keep someone else out.’

But Portsmouth ‘No’ campaigner Philip Cane said: People have a chance to say what they want on Thursday, but AV isn’t what anyone wants. Nick Clegg said it was a miserable little compromise.

‘It’s no-one’s first preference.’