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Should the UK voting system change?

08:37 UK time, Friday, 26 November 2010

Five former Labour cabinet ministers have pledged their opposition to changing the system for electing MPs. What is your opinion?

A referendum will be held on 5 May to decide whether the current electoral system of first-past-the-post should be replaced by the alternative voting (AV) system.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems agreed to hold a referendum as part of their coalition deal but Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg are on different sides of the argument over the need for change.

While the Conservatives largely oppose change and the Lib Dems support it, Labour appears divided over the issue.

What do you think of the current voting system? Would you support the introduction of AV? What impact would a change in the voting system have on British politics?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Yes, but not with a simple narrow choice of "keep the status-quo" or "Alternative vote".

    Here is an opportunity to discuss and decide on a whole new voting system, and there should be a whole gamut of possible alternatives available for discussion prior to any vote. It is also something so basic to our population that this is the kind of question where a full referendum is worthwhile.

    If we're looking at change, let's get it right first time and not just tinker with it to make it easier for one Party to retain or gain power.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the new system might well have its advantages over the one we have now.

    One major transformation could be made, though, if we were to vote for a *candidate* not a party. Until recently, I was voting for a Labour MP because he was such a good one where his constituency was concerned. I was not voting for his party. Since he retired, I have certainly been disappoiunted with his replacement (representing a different party).

    The AV system might well bring out those who work for their constituencies.

  • Comment number 3.

    Not really, one look at the 'tail wagging the dog' politicking that we saw in order to form our present government, the small party influence in Israel, and the impasse in Iraq (where they haven't formed a government in 8 months), show exactly what PR or its child AV could lead to.

    In general, our system has produced strong governments with mandates, and the odd time it hasn't, its probably been for the best as well.

    Leave it alone .... or face it, the small parties will have a permanent and disproportionate say in our governments in future.

  • Comment number 4.

    "Five former Labour cabinet ministers have pledged their opposition to changing the system for electing MPs."

    Is that the same as a Lib-Dem pledge ?

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course it should change if a party gets say 25% of the vote it should get 25% representation.

    Having said that if either the BNP or UKIP got any representation at all I would be very, very frightened, possibly for my life.

  • Comment number 6.

    I used to believe proportional representation was the only way forward, but looking at how the public have reacted to the current coalition government I don't believe we actually have the ability to understand that the parties we vote for will have even less chance of getting their policies carried in a coalition. It also gives the parties carte blanche to renege on promised and blame it on the other parties in the coalition.
    Seems funny that the most ardent supporters of PR tend to be Lib Dems, yet they shout the loudest that they've been cheated that their party isn't giving them what they want when they're the minority partner in a coalition.

    As for AV - well it's rather complicated and won't produce radically different results to FPTP. I doubt very much it'll get through and will signal the end of any further attempts to change the voting system for many years to come.

    Equalising the constituency sizes by population is the most important change that could be made, and probably the easiest & cheapest.

  • Comment number 7.

    The present voting system and the registration of voters is wide open to corruption and abuse so must be changed.
    AV may be the answer but is it the only answer. A full and proper debate is essential.
    Under the present system perhaps there should be a box on the voting form saying "none of the above"

  • Comment number 8.

    This is yet another ill gotten and farcical piece of political chicanery from the so called coalition.

    If we are serious about reforming government and the electoral process - and my god we should be serious about it - then it needs serious time and study, not a damned silly referendum which is the best silly little Nick could do.

    We need reform Nick. Not "little boy in short pants wants to show he is grown up" stupidity. Oooh, I bet big boy Dave had to tease that one out of you huh?

  • Comment number 9.

    Please Please Please!!

    Let us have a proper debate over PR.

    Look at the countries that have PR:

    Germany - better health care, trains and education than us (except universities)

    Sweden - UK Politicians keep saying how wonderful Sweden is

    India - the largest democracy in the world

    Netherlands - the Dutch really know how to keep their government on its toes

    Australia for their Senate

    Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

    And many, many others

    With PR the politicians have much fewer places to hide - they have less individual authority so HAVE to learn to work together and for what the voters really want.

    It is much easier to get rid of a failing government

    Policy gets far more scrutiny and it less likely to get through by force. Consequently politicians have to find the compromise that actually works rather than the extreme policy that simply is making some sort of stupid political point.

    Powerful government is BAD government - they can pass any law they like. Look at Thatcher and Blair - do we want government like that again?

  • Comment number 10.

    No, don't change it if the result would be people like the LibDems having so much influence. Disasterous!

  • Comment number 11.

    5. At 09:04am on 26 Nov 2010, europhile wrote:
    Of course it should change if a party gets say 25% of the vote it should get 25% representation.

    Having said that if either the BNP or UKIP got any representation at all I would be very, very frightened, possibly for my life.
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    So you agree with the idea just so long as you like the party elected ?

    You can't have it both ways.

  • Comment number 12.

    A different voting system is needed but having a choice between just the two on offer isn't the answer. We will still have the potential to end up with somebody nobody actually wanted as their first choice with AV and there are better ways to do it than this. Why are politicians so scared to change things? Oh yes, because it might affect their millionaire lifestyles and expenses rip offs and give people more power - obvious really.

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes the "voting" system should change.

    But should we vote for political parties ?

    They all haven't done much good over the last 40 years.

    Unless professionals are brought in to do these jobs then what chance has the country got ?

    First step, ban all political parties and remove them from power.

  • Comment number 14.

    1. At 08:57am on 26 Nov 2010, teedoff wrote:
    "Yes, but not with a simple narrow choice of "keep the status-quo" or "Alternative vote"."

    This isn't being done because MPs want to change the system. It's being done because it was part of the deal struck between the Lib Dems and the Tories. The reason why AV is the only alternative on offer because that is all the Conservatives offered the Lib Dems in return for helping them into power.

  • Comment number 15.

    13. At 09:20am on 26 Nov 2010, JackMaxDaniels wrote:
    "Unless professionals are brought in to do these jobs then what chance has the country got ?

    First step, ban all political parties and remove them from power."

    And who would you rather have in power? Who are these "professionals" and who decides? Probably you, isn't it?

  • Comment number 16.

    The Tories only agreed to any kind of vote so they could grasp some sort of power. The LibDems similarly and, as seems to be the case nowadays, they accepted to the least radical form of PR.
    So what we will be presented with is LibDem politicians arguing for something with which they really don't agree, Tories pressing really strongly for the status quo and Labour a bit divided.
    It has been clear for decades that the UK continually elects non representative governments so some form of PR must be the correct way to go.
    One of the serious problems is that the current government is completely unrepresentative of how the system should work. The majority of votes in the last election were for centre or slightly left of centre parties, whilst what is happening now is that the LibDems have veered so dramatically right, in their lust for power, as to make themselves unvotable for (I know but I couldn't think of another phrase).
    Ipso facto, the people who will benefit from this change to the voting system are probably not going to be the LibDems but most probably Labour.
    Paradoxically, if we had a more sensible form of pure PR, maybe the LibDems would gain, along with the BNP, Greens and other rump parties.

  • Comment number 17.

    PR would potentially be a step closer to a real democratic system. Unlike the current 2-sides-of-the-same-coin farce we have in place.

  • Comment number 18.

    If we are to drop 'first past the post' I want STV, not AV.

    I want to still be able to vote for the individual whom I wish to be my representative... not for a party, but for a person. An individual who is then answerable to me for what he says and votes in Parliament on my behalf.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think one of the poimnts made by Rufus McDufus (#6) is quite relevant. The LibDems are the significant minor partner in the coalition, but only on seats gained. In terms of votes cast they were not that far adrift. The problem with this coalition, as I see it as a former LibDem voter, is not that the voters don't know how a coalition should work, but that British politicians don't really know, hence the junior partner continues to cave in to the senior at all points.
    Also, the changing of electoral boundaries is always highly fraught and subject to so much manipulation as to make any opposition unelectable in the near future.

  • Comment number 20.

    It needs to be easier for an independent to stand against the major parties, i myself would stand with the support of friends and neighbours in the next election. We need more people from the people to represent us the people i for one am sick to death of ALL the major parties and ALL the politicians.

  • Comment number 21.

    The usual all talks and no actions. I don't see anything will change any time soon.

  • Comment number 22.

    Something many seemed to have overlooked - our voting process is not designed to be "fair", it is designed to return strong Governments in the majority of cases.

  • Comment number 23.

    Change the voting system? What's the point? Whoever you vote for, the government will still get in. And the unelected mandarins in Whitehall will be the same old people who wield the real power in this country, and do so on behalf of their cronies who run big businesses.

    We call ourselves a democracy, when in actuality we are given the illusion that we, the people, can actually change things. We never have been able to, nor will we ever be able to because the lobbyists who pay the political parties in order to have their voice heard over us, will continue to pay them so that their interests are met above the interests of the people, and the mandarins will ensure that this will continue to happen, regardless of which political party or coalition is in power.

  • Comment number 24.

    YES it should be changed
    As it is is open for fruad AND IS and HAS been
    That was proved in the LAST Election by the number that voted on a Postal Vote and were NOT entitled to
    Postal Voting should be STOPPED
    There are ENOUGH Voting Stations around the country
    This excuse that they cannot get to one IS A LOAD OF RUBBISH what did they do YEARS ago
    People who are NOT entitled to vote DID last time

  • Comment number 25.

    The first passed the post system is the best way.The olympics aren't run on A V, it is mad to suggest that a 'pick a card any card'system of voting is superior.
    When we go to vote we know to get the party nearest to our ideals we tick the box and x'ed fingers the candidate with the most votes wins - simple.
    With A V tick a box then another and so on until a candidate has most votes wins by default what sort of democracy is that - it's not.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is the 21st century, is Britain to continue it's long long, nearly a thousand years, crawl towards democracy or are we going to persist to allow those who benefit most from the status quo with all it's anomalies and nonsense to control our affairs. It is time for a clean sweep, the days when a knight from the shires rode for several days to Westminster and supposedly represented people most of whom he would even have deigned to speak to are long gone. Our voting system is based upon a system devised in almost prehistoric times when divisions were sharp and opinions firmly in this camp or that. It is recognised today that there are a multiplicity of views over most issues but due to our very limited democracy there are many views never get voiced let alone are afforded a proper public platform. It is time for more than a single trasnferable vote, we must go for a fully represetative system so that the make up of the House of Commons as closely as possible reflects the variety of opinion. It will present difficulties but no system is without difficulty, it will undoubtedly do away with much of the nonsense of the present system, where one party succeeds another in office and immediately starts dismantling everything within reach that carries the hall mark of the other party whether it is is beneficial to society or not. If it brings about coalitions then so be it, ordinary citizens have to learn to pull together in their employment or their social activities so why not the politiicans. Are they all so rigorously dogmatic? If they can do nothing but make a hash of it then they should move over and let others have a try. It will always be possible to move on again to yet another system even back to the present system if that is what people desire. But don't let us continue with the present system it is being manipulated principally for the benefit of the established pary system.

    And whilst we are at it, it is time for a reform of the Lords, it is still being used as a means of patronage and that is a polite way of saying that if you scratch my back then I shall scratch yours. The Lords should be a fully elected house, it can be a wonderful place for the reviewing of government proposals but to be democratic it should be fully electable. It should be elected on a one man one vote basis and the constituency of those elected thereto should be on a totally different basis to that of the Commons, it should not be done on a party political basis, we are looking for an experienced reviewing body, not a body setting out to initiate legislation or to control the operation of Parliament or society.

  • Comment number 27.

    "Should the UK voting system change?"

    Yes, but to a fully proportional system based on party lists, which assigns seats as nearly as possible in direct proportion to votes cast.

    Oh, - and while we're on the subject of reform we should also have:

    A bi-cameral republic with a non-executive presidency.

    A written constitution.

    A Bill of Rights.

  • Comment number 28.

    Of course it should change if a party gets say 25% of the vote it should get 25% representation.

    Having said that if either the BNP or UKIP got any representation at all I would be very, very frightened, possibly for my life.
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Well, as long as you keep things in perspective....................

  • Comment number 29.

    Its NOT going to happen. There is NOT a majority in Parliament to push this through.

    The MUCH MUCH bigger point though is that this voting system thats being put forward is basically a step BACKWARDS.

    It is an attrocious and outrageous undermining attack on democracy.

    You just have to see the results of the Labopur party leadership election to see how factually attrocious such a system is.

    I personally do NOT want to be FORCED into making a 2nd choice, a choice that I do NOT WANT from a party and candidates I do NOT SUPPORT and a choice that may result in MY vote helping the OPPOSITE to my beliefs/wants, gaining power.

    This AV voting system is OUTRAGEOUS and is NOT an improvement to democracy and is FACTUALLY of NO benefit to democracy.

    Forcing voters to make a secondary choice from those they have NO inclination to vote for is something I would expect from Burma or any other attrocious Stalanist regime which manipulates voting systems.

    In the end, Ed miliband was voted in by MANY MANY of those who didnt want to vote for him, they were made to make a secondary choice.

    This total RUBBISH on this voting system is BOUND to be rejected.

    The WHOLE point of this is JUST so that these MUPPET politicians can then say - well we offered an alternative voting system, now that has failed, lets move on.

    The fact is, in relative terms, they have offered a cigar to a smoker and said, this is better for you, suck on this.

  • Comment number 30.

    Post #1
    ...Here is an opportunity to discuss and decide on a whole new voting system, and there should be a whole gamut of possible alternatives available for discussion prior to any vote...

    ________________________________________________________

    Yes. This nonsense of tactical voting where the voter votes for B because they don't want A is twisted thinking and should now be fixed. Whenever there are more than two candidates (nearly every election) there should be an option to vote properly AGAINST a candidate. This would give better expression where, say for example, the voter is pretty indifferent about candidates A, B and C but really wants to avoid candidate D getting into power. There should be an option to give make a 'minus' vote in this case such that one vote FOR D is cancelled by another vote AGAINST D.
    That way we might at least manage to keep the extremist nutters out of politics... mind you there's rather a lot of them in there already!

    Just think of the fun of seeing a candidate getting a minus score when the results are read out!

  • Comment number 31.

    As it stands the current voting system is a sham and, here's a few examples:

    MORE people don't vote for the party that gets into power than do, how is that Democratic?

    If you mess about with the constituency size and borders you can increase the number of your MPs you get into Parliament, Democratic?

    A region with a certain class of population can have many constituencies where as another region with a different class of population may have only one, clever that one! Democracy?

    So you elect the MP who represents your views then, lo and behold, they go and adopt the policies of the party you didn't want in power. Someones ears burning? Dimlebs! Democracy?

    And finally, the first past the post system? we're trying to run a country here not a bloody horse race. If that's the best we can do then God help us all!

    Democracy, don't make me laugh, the current system is an affront to intelligent civilised people and, the sooner we implement a more just system of electing MPs the better.

    Party A
    Party B
    Party C

    Count the TOTAL amount of votes for each party nationwide and the winner is the one with the most votes, how simple is that? Hopefully that will prevent minority parties getting into power using the current fraudulent system.

  • Comment number 32.

    That are systems available (which might need some refining) that allow two votes to take place at a single poll: one vote for the individual you wish to represent your constituency and one vote for the Party you wish to see in power. The two can often be mutually exclusive. As an example I am not a natural Labour supporter, but my constituency MP is Labour and I fully support them.

    And to comment #14 - I know that this is a done deal and the status quo is what will emerge. I am simply trying to offer meaningful alternatives to a deaf government, and desperately trying to remember the last time we had a government that actually listened.

  • Comment number 33.

    The voting system for Westminster elections is in dire need of reform. Under first-past-the-post (FPTP) people's votes do not have equal influence on the result of the election. Someone in a marginal seat has real democratic power in how they use their vote. An opposition supporter in a safe seat, on the other hand, may as well not bother registering to vote at all. This, in turn, influences how and where parties choose to canvass their support across the country.

    I am convinced that neither of the two main parties are interested in electoral reform because it suits them to carve up the country into their own respective fiefdoms: broadly speaking the north for Labour and the south-east for the Tories. The Lib Dems support electoral reform but I fear that people's experiences of this current coalition government and the duplicitousness and downright lies of Nick Clegg have now effectively scuppered any chance of the referendum being won.

    No matter how we elect our government, it is the businessmen and the bankers who pull the strings behind the scenes for their own personal benefit. Money talks, and MPs are only too willing to listen.

  • Comment number 34.

    23. At 09:44am on 26 Nov 2010, RedRebel54 wrote:

    ...about how money counts more than votes...

    _____________________________________________________

    While they are trying to sort things out they should also pay a set amount as campaign funds to each candidate and ban additional external funding. That would shake things up a bit by levelling the playing field. Otherwise we're just going further down the USA line where money buys power and power buys money. I was shocked to see how JFK really got there - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11718369 - and things can only be worse today.

  • Comment number 35.

    The problem with 'first past the post' voting in the modern era is that it usually provides us with a government voted into office by only a minority of the electorate. i.e. the majority of votes cast are wasted. This creates disillusionment and lowers the turnout at elections, so election results depend on just a few 'marginals'. However, it does provide the country with a government and suits the nature of our adversarial form of politics. If we switch to a voting system that more accurately reflects the popular vote, then all political parties must accept that coalition governments are more likely and a greater degree of common sense and cooperation between the political parties will be needed to make it work. i.e. the culture of our political system will have to change. If this can be achieved, then I am in favour of abandoning 'first past the post'. However, if the political parties go on behaving in the way they do now, then we should stick with what we have got.

  • Comment number 36.

    In principle I'm all for it, in spite of the drawbacks to the AV system. It's not perfect and probably no voting system could ever be perfect. The one thing I would hope for is that the pros and cons are thoroughly investigated beforehand, so as to do the job right in the first place. Regrettably, given the English penchant for bodging things up so that it works somehow, it seems likely to be badly thought out, badly organised and will never quite do what it is supposed to do.

  • Comment number 37.

    Of course it should.
    I voted at the last election (Lib/Dem) and ended up with a Tory government!

  • Comment number 38.

    The voting system is there to select a candidate to represent a constituency. This is the principle that I shall vigorously defend. An individual has got to be able to stand for election to represent his or her community in Parliament and I believe the best way of achieving this is through the retention of the current voting system. This is voting in its pure form which is used throughout the country in a whole raft of organisations and communities. You stand you campaign you fight the seat and the person with the most votes wins.
    I am strongly opposed to any voting system based on the party system or party allegiance, party lists and other forms of the same. AV and PR are types of changes predicated on preserving and entrenching the party system and I believe removes the democratic link between a constituency and its member of Parliament. The Liberal Democrats will support AV as they see it as a step towards PR. Concerns have been raised about the conduct of parliament, the use of the whips and how the parties operate in the house. These issues still need addressing.
    On the issue of accountability Tony Benn rightly posed five questions: What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interest do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can I get rid of you? The sort of voting reforms being proposed start to make it very difficult for a constituency to remove its MP especially if MP’s are chosen from party lists. I say this now because it won’t end here if the AV vote goes through further reforms will follow. So I am joining the “Yes2FPTP” and “No2AV” campaigns.

  • Comment number 39.

    We supposedly live in a democracy. If that is the case then proportional representation is the system we should be following where the number of seats a party gets is determined by the number of votes cast for it.

  • Comment number 40.

    Why change the system ? Just because the Lib Dems feel they deserve more than they're worth, the nation has to change it's voting system ? What needs to change is the number of politicians, maybe 40% less would suffice, and inner cities electing multiple MPs because of their population should change , it is unfair on those who don't want to have policies designed to gain votes in these areas forced on them. Proportional representation is the gateway to weak government (as in Scotland ) and rule by minority at the expense of the majority.

  • Comment number 41.

    Here's an idea which may not be truly novel. Scrap political parties altogether, and return full power to the monarchy. One man, one vote type of democracy. The King is the man. He's got the vote. Apologies to the sitting incumbent.

  • Comment number 42.

    vote ukip people! not the usual 3!

  • Comment number 43.

    37. At 10:07am on 26 Nov 2010, Trainee Anarchist wrote:
    Of course it should.
    I voted at the last election (Lib/Dem) and ended up with a Tory government!

    ____________________________________________________

    Eh... Keep training. Anarchists don't vote.

  • Comment number 44.

    31. At 09:56am on 26 Nov 2010, rememberdurruti wrote:
    As it stands the current voting system is a sham and, here's a few examples:

    MORE people don't vote for the party that gets into power than do, how is that Democratic?
    -----------------------------------------------------
    It's democratic in the same way that if 10 people were voting for the leader of the Sahara Desert Canoe Club and candidate A got 4 votes and candidates B to G all got one vote then Candidate A would be elected as the most popular candidate. People vote for the candidate (party) that they WANT (yes, I appreciate tactical voting - mainly encouraged by Labour and Lib Dems in the past - but that's not quite democratic either)

  • Comment number 45.

    13. At 09:20am on 26 Nov 2010, JackMaxDaniels wrote:
    Yes the "voting" system should change.

    But should we vote for political parties ?

    They all haven't done much good over the last 40 years.

    Unless professionals are brought in to do these jobs then what chance has the country got ?

    First step, ban all political parties and remove them from power.

    -----------------------------------

    Perhaps we could have professionals like the military generals in Burma.

    They'd be quite happy to ban all political parties that they don't want, what a step forward that would be for the country!

  • Comment number 46.

    31. At 09:56am on 26 Nov 2010, rememberdurruti wrote:
    As it stands the current voting system is a sham and, here's a few examples:

    MORE people don't vote for the party that gets into power than do, how is that Democratic?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Very true.

    Democracy particuarly representative democracy is a joke and theonly way its defenders support it is by ludicrously claiming that it is better than a ruthless dictatorship.

    Which is rather like saying ephysema is better than TB - it is far better to avoid both diseases

    All that happens is one clique replaces another.

    The only way to go, if you beleive in democracy, is to have a far more participatory process - after all this is what democracy actually meant by those who founded it.

    COmpulsory voting, obligatory stints on local councils etc even up to Westminster.

    Participating in politics should be as obligatory as sending children to school or conscription. Not a lot of fun perhaps, but necessary.



  • Comment number 47.

    There was a time when I supported a change in the voting system. However, having seen the "coalition" in action I now support the currnet system. It seems to me that the only reason for the proposal now being made is to save that the Liberals from oblivion at the next election. Having seen the coalition in action I want no more fixes. When you run a race the first past the post is the winner, victory is not awarded to a collection of also rans, which is what the Liberals have been in my over 50 years of voting in elections.

  • Comment number 48.

    leave it alone they always want to change things that has served well for centuries , when they do change it is usually for there benifit not ours , they cannot be trusted

  • Comment number 49.

    I am going to vote for the change. It will be the first time I vote. Now do analyze all the option, and think about the results of your conclusion. Since I will vote for change, remember there is a Green Member of Parliament. Does this represent the true reflection of the country? I say not. Therefore I consider the change meets the requirements of a one true vote system. You could say you only get one government, the Queen’s government, so why vote anyway, it is always that. I come from another angle. I will never vote and back any Member of Parliament who speaks to back Nuclear weapons. These misfits believe the declaring the weapons, is the deterrence. Then the better option is to keep quiet so you do not get Nuclear weapons aimed at you, the perfect deterrence. In the present environment, this vision is unlikely. The owner’s of Nuclear weapons are at peace. I was thing the one day in the future, that a ref who would engage in my understanding of the environment. This would protect the earth’s gene pool. The gene pool is the pool from which new species emerged from. So I am not conventional Green, but Biological Green. Therefore a new vote system may make it possible. You do not understand the missing of blanks (missing genes), so this is for the future. These Member of Parliament who waste on nukes will get a hard time from me daily until they understand our point.

  • Comment number 50.

    One of the tired arguments the die hard make is that with First Past the Post you get a proper representative - not some person you dont know.

    What?

    What rubbish is that??

    Random Example: Say I believe in housing benefit, but my MP (who I did not vote for) thinks people on benefit are free-loaders. How on earth is my MP meant to represent me when I have a problem with my housing benefit?

    And with the present system I have no choice - I HAVE to use my MP, I am not allowed to use one that might actually stand for what I believe in.

    Also, how many people actually ever use their MP? 1%? 2%? Polls often show that people don't even know who their MP is - they don't always know which party their MP belongs to! I have to say I have never in my whole life had need to involve my MP (er, whoever they are)

    So, this local representation thing is a pile of political hogwash. With PR we should have permanent local political offices where people can go and get advice on a non-party basis, and if they need an MP, they can have a choice, if they feel that is important to their case.

  • Comment number 51.

    Yes it has to change. It has to change to PR where everybody's vote counts.

    The only reason we still have the first past the post system is because of the tories. The tories are more interested in being in power and helping their rich banker friends than doing what is best for the country.

  • Comment number 52.

    Something needs to change we haven't had a majority votes governBENT in decades we as a people are being robbed of our most important right, the right to fair governbent.
    I honestly do not know one honest MP do you?

  • Comment number 53.

    The present system has served us well for donkeys years, leave well alone. Change for change sake is unacceptable.

  • Comment number 54.

    46. At 10:23am on 26 Nov 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    The only way to go, if you beleive in democracy, is to have a far more participatory process - after all this is what democracy actually meant by those who founded it.

    COmpulsory voting, obligatory stints on local councils etc even up to Westminster.

    Participating in politics should be as obligatory as sending children to school or conscription. Not a lot of fun perhaps, but necessary.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Do you really believe that compelling people to do something against their will increases democracy? In a democratic election one of the options is NOT to vote

  • Comment number 55.

    "Should the UK voting system change?"

    Absolutely. Definitely. Without question. YES.

    BUT, the proposed system, the subject of the referendum, is nothing more than a disgraceful fudge. I will vote against it. The 'new' system would be little, if any, better than the existing system.

    We MUST re-establish democracy, and that requires a change in the election system. Our current democracy is in an appalling state, a joke.

    I don't know the figures for the last general election, but based on previous ones,
    a) When did we last have a Government elected with the support of much more than a quarter of the whole electorate? Decades ago probably, if ever.
    b) How many MPs are elected with the support of more than 49.9% of their constituents? Very, very few.

    We get Governments not supported by the majority of the electorate. No wonder they so quickly become so unpopular, and spend so much of their time passing laws most people don't agree with. They don't represent us!

    We get MPs not supported by most of their constituents. Is it any wonder the electorate is so disengaged?

    A high proportion (40%?) of the electorate don't vote. Bone idle, can't be bothered to get off their backsides? Maybe, some of them. But maybe most of them simply can't see the point, can't see that their vote will make any difference to the outcome.

    We MUST change the system so everyone feels it's worthwhile voting, so the views of minor-party supporters, with a reasonable national poll, are reflected in our legislature.

    Failure to PROPERLY tackle this problem could eventually lead to very serious civil unrest ... no respect for laws passed by Governments not representing the people.

    AV is NOT properly tackling the problem. Merely a disgraceful fudge.

  • Comment number 56.

    This is a country desperately in need of Democratic reform.

    Politicians are a law unto themselves, having hi-jacked a system for their own nefarious purposes.

    From the Iraq war to the non-vote on Europe to the mass thieving of expenses these smooth talking gangstas from Oxford and Cambridge need to be removed ASAP, and control handed back to the people.

    The Swiss have the best system, a proper democratic system which is almost impossible to hi-jack.

    Even the Germans have a superior Democracy to Britain nowadays.

    Our own system worked when there was a common bond between professional politicians and the people but nowadays we have the most horrible lying thieving crafty scheming bunch of well educated well dressed well spoken chancers in British history.

    It's time for change, major change, and the LAST people who should be telling us what that change should be are those self serving scumbags in Parliament.

  • Comment number 57.

    50. At 10:30am on 26 Nov 2010, Hastings wrote:
    One of the tired arguments the die hard make is that with First Past the Post you get a proper representative - not some person you dont know.

    What?

    What rubbish is that??

    Random Example: Say I believe in housing benefit, but my MP (who I did not vote for) thinks people on benefit are free-loaders. How on earth is my MP meant to represent me when I have a problem with my housing benefit?

    And with the present system I have no choice - I HAVE to use my MP, I am not allowed to use one that might actually stand for what I believe in.

    Also, how many people actually ever use their MP? 1%? 2%? Polls often show that people don't even know who their MP is - they don't always know which party their MP belongs to! I have to say I have never in my whole life had need to involve my MP (er, whoever they are)

    So, this local representation thing is a pile of political hogwash. With PR we should have permanent local political offices where people can go and get advice on a non-party basis, and if they need an MP, they can have a choice, if they feel that is important to their case.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    So rather than vote for a specific individual to represent you and you're local area who you can question, challenge and judge prior to the election and meet, question and challenge after the election as part of their constituency work, you want to vote for a 'party' who will decide who represents the 'people'. You didn't live in the old Soviet Union by any chance?

  • Comment number 58.

    Hastings wrote:

    "Please Please Please!!

    Let us have a proper debate over PR."

    I want that too but, I doubt it'll happen given we're still quite and immature country.

    "Powerful government is BAD government - they can pass any law they like. Look at Thatcher and Blair - do we want government like that again?"

    This aught to be reason enough for most people to vote of some form or PR in the referendum. Thatcher wouldn't have got the majorites she did in the 80's. Britain would have been a different place back. Maybe a better one for the likes of me. We certainly wouldn't have be subjugated to the dangers of Tony "temple bar" Blair.

  • Comment number 59.

    Why are people so scared by MPs having to sit down and work out compromises and deals?

    The most dangerous thing in the world is absolute power - under systems like PR where, in all probability, you will allways get coalitions, the politicians have no choice but come up with solutions that will get agreement form a broad spectrum of views.

    That just HAS to be better than someone being able to force something like the Poll Tax through, simply because it looked fair on paper. Under the FPTP system, Thatacher and her government were able to completely ignore all the warning and objections to the poll tax because thay had near absolute power at that vote - even though we are a democracy.

    Most people would argue that the most succesful companies are generally the ones that are most flexible - the ones that can take on new ideas, change their minds, do U-Turns to suit their market position.

    So, why do we have a political system where that is not possible?

    Utter madness.

    I want the BEST solution for each problem, not just "here are three rubbish ideas, pick one"

  • Comment number 60.

    I will vote against.

    The LibDems must be punished.

  • Comment number 61.

    4. At 09:04am on 26 Nov 2010, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:

    "Five former Labour cabinet ministers have pledged their opposition to changing the system for electing MPs."

    Is that the same as a Lib-Dem pledge ?


    No, that is the same as any political pledge regardless of which party - Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat.

  • Comment number 62.

    Contrary to #22 our voting system IS supposed to be fair. If you want strong government aren't we into notionally elected despot territory?
    Our basic electoral system still dates back virtually to the Magna Carta, where our overlords (most of us anyway) were voting for their own benefits and not for the rest of the populace. The franchise may have been extended, but the system and principle still hold good.
    Or bad depending on perspective.

  • Comment number 63.

    Kadazan wrote:

    The present system has served us well for donkeys years, leave well alone. Change for change sake is unacceptable.

    ###

    No it hasn't - that is the point. Just because we have had it for years, does not mean it has been the best system.

    If we had had PR, the poll tax would never have happened, the Iraq war may never have happened, Suez may never have happened, and even the Light Brigade my have had 600 more survivors.

    Look, the point it, PR wont stop bad decisions - but it makes them very much harder to get passed.

  • Comment number 64.

    16. At 09:30am on 26 Nov 2010, pragmatickev wrote:

    The Tories only agreed to any kind of vote so they could grasp some sort of power. The LibDems similarly and, as seems to be the case nowadays, they accepted to the least radical form of PR


    And Labour offered it to the Liberal Democrats as part of their desperate attempt to hold onto power after the last election. Just goes to show what all politicians are like.

  • Comment number 65.

    @ forclarification

    You need to read up about the Party List system before you say any more. You obviosuly don't understand.

  • Comment number 66.

    Like many aspects of our electoral system, it certainly does need changing. But I will not be voting for the AV system in May for two reasons:-

    1. The AV system is not much of an improvement on first past the post. Its adoption would only be a partial solution and might delay more comprehensive reform.

    2. The referendum is part of the reward given by Cameron to the Lib Dems for their treachery after the election in May 2010. It is important that they should not profit from their behaviour and loss of the referendum might cause defections and bring down the Cameron government.

  • Comment number 67.

    Well, if the majority of the elected MPs are against it then it must be a good idea to change the electoral system however I would prefer to see PR so that every single vote counts.

  • Comment number 68.

    Don't you love the mad fools that say things like "the Lib Dems must be punished" or what ever other party.

    The saying about babies and bath water springs to mind.

  • Comment number 69.

    Something needs to be done. Democracy as we have it does not work well in a society divided between factions such as gender, wealth, educational achievement, race, religion, age, orientation etc.

    The fear of electorally offending, even mildly, any one of these groups gives them all undue sway, and this in turn encourages egoism within them.

    Whether reform of the voting system will address this we'll have to wait and see, but if we could become more united as a nation we perhaps would not need this.

  • Comment number 70.

    england has the majority, the rest of britain is tamed into believing anything so long as the individual m p gets a seat in the house of commons,the vote, once caste is being used as a weapon,instead of it being caste as a demcratic right for the people to make their choice of selecting their representative without having to suffer remorse by defence of a principle only to find the principle is one of incompetence as in the case of the lost conservative cause to win votes,enough to get the people behind the idea that the conservatives, in control of the sixty or so millions of people is a loose cannon,while the lib dems cling to the upper school of non working class,to free themselves from their past enslavery of the working classes,just to be recognised as a party with a finger curled round the trigger of discontent.
    The flat cap days have not yet ended and men still work for bread
    while milk and honey in jars are blended our sweat and blood is shed.

  • Comment number 71.

    What this country REALLY needs is a politician with cahoonas as big as Mikhail Gorbachev, a man capable of dismantling a system which is rotten to the core and rebuilding it in the democratic interests of the people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland
    By calling a federal referendum a group of citizens may challenge a law that has been passed by Parliament, if they can gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If so, a national vote is scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law. Eight cantons together can also call a referendum on a federal law.

    Democracy for the people by the people.

    Democracy: Something Britain does not have...which is why our parliamentary gangstas thrive.

  • Comment number 72.

    It seems to me that AV should produce a more balanced political mix, more reflective of the overall national mood.
    The argument that you vote for a person not a party is long out of date - nearly everyone votes for a party because party policies determine the government's plans. Individual MPs have to toe the party line, and they rarely allow the interests of their constituents to get in the way of that.
    I can see why many MPs object to AV, if they're in safe seats thay will become less safe! With AV they'd have to work harder to get their message across. That's in the public interest, will make elections more interesting, and so the public should support AV. I certainly do.

  • Comment number 73.

    25. At 09:46am on 26 Nov 2010, sande wrote:
    "The first passed the post system is the best way.The olympics aren't run on A V."

    (is it "first passed", or "first past"? Both seem plausible!)

    Britain has a long and noble history of producing slightly second-rate competitors, and we usually get about as far as the quarter finals in the World Cup. Any winners we do produce are usually excruciatingly irritating ego-maniacs so why don't we have a system where the person who comes second or third in the vote gets in?

    The other problem really comes with the supply-side: the individual who comes first in FPTP is usually about as mediocre as the runners-up, so we might as well have a system where the winner is selected through a game of hide-and-seek, recreating the scene where the champion is selected in Terry Gilliam's "Jabberwocky". . .

  • Comment number 74.

    23. At 09:44am on 26 Nov 2010, RedRebel54 wrote:
    "Change the voting system? What's the point? Whoever you vote for, the government will still get in"
    ---------------------------------
    Er, yes, of course a government will get in. What would you prefer? Anarchy? Dictatorship? Rule by Royal Decree?

  • Comment number 75.

    Demoncracy is the worst form of Government except all the others that have been tried.


    No conceivable voting system could satisfy all conditions of a fair government. We are left to make the best of a bad job.

    Systems such as FPTP produce governments with enough power to actually do things, though most voters may disapprove; some fairer systems such as PR spread power so thinly that any attempt at government descends into partisan infighting.

  • Comment number 76.

    It hardly matters to the voters which electoral system we adopt - all the political party's are the same - all the same flavour of ice cream - all fascist, devoted to the glory of global fascist corporations and the destruction of the individual!

    All fake saints and saviours offering a counterfeit salvation to the deluded masses set adrift in oceans of irrational nonsense - vote for the Zero - you know it makes sense......give it up, give it up, give it up.

    The Mad Hatters run the show and make you drink tea from a pot never filled - they have the cakes and would eat them too, but they do not know how to bake the cakes or gather the ingredients!

    So you will sacrifice your knowledge and skills to build their party and furnish their luxury! But in their arrogance and contempt they will make you pay for a mortgage on your mind.

    The politics of fake democracy to furnish golden temples for the wealth useless parasitic elites..... I do not want to jump down the rabbit hole thanks!

  • Comment number 77.

    AV is a silly compromise.
    I want full PR
    I want my vote to count for once
    I also want a tick box added to each and every voting form that gives me the option of "none of the above" especially for local councillors.

    PR would see the demise of the Tory party which is why they don't like the idea, bring it on.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think reform is long overdue as the current system is not producing the best governance for our country and has all the downsides of changing from one so called "idealogy" to another every few years which is disruptive. We need to be offered the option of the best system -probably the Swedish model - with full explanations of the merits and faults of all the potentials, AV included. At present, huge numbers of votes cast for a party still don't guarantee that it will be the one forming the government, and that is just wrong. Embedded with this reform needs to be a clear pathway of accountability for manifesto pledges. The Tory manifesto promised a reform of Human Rights Legislation which has been so damagingly hijacked, used as a cash cow by the legal profession et al and now lacks all credibility or commonsense. Once in power with the Lib Dems, of course, their pledge simply joined the heap of broken promises which litters the British political scene. So, any new system needs to build in absolute accountability for "doing what it says on the tin". This would hopefully discourage wild promises being made to seduce voters and make politicians far more accountable for their actions than at present.

  • Comment number 79.

    65. At 10:45am on 26 Nov 2010, Hastings wrote:
    @ forclarification

    You need to read up about the Party List system before you say any more. You obviosuly don't understand.
    -------------------------------------------
    Au contraire Hastings. I live and vote in Scotland so I'm fully aware of the democratic delights of party lists

  • Comment number 80.

    We are allowed to vote for one party and yet now have a "government" of two parties. Is that actually democratic and fair? I do not think so, so yes something needs to change.

  • Comment number 81.

    no first past the post is the correct system. voting should be made compulsary.

  • Comment number 82.

    What is the point in HYS if the BBC do not report afterward on the trends of opinion reflected in it?

  • Comment number 83.

    Yes - it must change!

    First past the post is profoundly undemocratic - but perhaps suits the corrupt fools who seem to abound at the Palace of Westminster.

  • Comment number 84.

    I am in favour of changing the electoral system. I do not like this first past the post system.Neither do I like the system Labour have for electing their leader,where wasted votes are rolled over and you end up with somebody the majority did not want as a first choice. BUT,having seen the shambles that we now have where the party in power now refuse to take any notice of pledges made before the election merely to have the trappings of power.

  • Comment number 85.

    If we can stop the safe labour or tory seat then we need a new voting system.What a cheek,a labour or tory Mp can get a mortgage from a bank on the back of having the next 30-40 years in parliment.No wonder theirs been a expenses scandal.What a bunch of mugs we voters must look like.

  • Comment number 86.

    80. At 11:09am on 26 Nov 2010, frank wrote:

    We are allowed to vote for one party and yet now have a "government" of two parties. Is that actually democratic and fair? I do not think so, so yes something needs to change.


    Yes, it is democratic and fair. For this first time in my lifetime we have a government where the majority of people who voted actually voted for the one of the two parties in the coalition.

    And changing the voting system will make coalition government more likely in the future.

  • Comment number 87.

    Yes, but only by having a fully elected house of lords based on some kind of PR system. The house of commons would stay the same, but with less MP's.

  • Comment number 88.

    The corrupt UK political system needs total change. The present bunch - of all parties tend to jump on the bandwagon of change only when it suits them. If they stand a chance of losing their cushy, highly lucrative MP "job", like the 5 labour members, they will rake up all sorts of red herrings.
    I say that we need Proportional Representation right now. Forget the rubbish spoken about it by all vested interests, and vote for the person who you believe will truly represent your and your families interests. Lets tell Cameron and the rest of these out-of-touch dinosaurs that we want OUR interests to be represented, not theirs and their chums the bankers.

  • Comment number 89.

    At 09:04am on 26 Nov 2010, europhile wrote:
    Of course it should change if a party gets say 25% of the vote it should get 25% representation.

    Having said that if either the BNP or UKIP got any representation at all I would be very, very frightened, possibly for my life.

    =========================================================================

    You can't have it both ways though, can you? You either want a particular system, warts and all, or you want another one on a similar basis. You can't say "I want such-and-such-a-system, but..."

  • Comment number 90.

    Many thanks to'MeOnVenus' at 10.15 am 26 Nov.
    Well said my friend...I had wondered why they will not let me in the meetings!
    That's it then....no voting for me!
    Shall invite you to my inauguration and I want you to carry the red and black flag if that's OK ?

  • Comment number 91.

    Just the fact that Blunkett,Beckett,Reid,Prescot are lobbying against it tells me there is more reason for voting for it.Political experience is their reason for going against it.Well political experience tells me that whenever self indulgent,incompetents like them vote for something its only in their favour and that of their mates in high places.Do not trust them.

  • Comment number 92.

    Labour opposition to voting changes is based on the fact that the current system is rigged in its favour. It takes less votes to get a Labour MP than a Tory one.

    We need electoral change. The major parties are not popular, and we need to let other voices be heard, from the Greens and Respect through to UKIP and even the BNP.

    It is clear that our political élites in tune with each other, not the general public.


    On a number of issues, notably
    - immigration
    - Europe
    - multiculturalism
    - Afghanistan
    - local planning decisions

    the politicians are generally out of touch with public opinion, in a way which can be dangerous.

    Right now, we've got discontented students rioting. Think what would happen if all the people who loathe immigration were as criminally minded as some student and anti-capitalist types.

  • Comment number 93.

    The other alternative would be to make it like the Eurovision Song Contest, where the candidates have to perform a rather camp song and dance routine, viewed on local television. Voters from each local ward could get together in their community centre/pub and cast their votes, to be relayed to the returning office by an Abba look-alike and compiled onto a winners list using stunning graphics from the late 1990s. The winner would finally be announced amid tears and flowers when the last community reports in, and the sequin-clad victor is cheered off to the House of Commons by the flag-waving cross-dressers and carnival-queens in the town hall.
    Or would that only work for the EU elections?

  • Comment number 94.

    Something should be done about this as currently its possible for one party to get far more overall votes yet win fewer seats and therefore not be elected.

  • Comment number 95.

    All political systems have their faults. There is no perfect system.

    The imperfection of the current system in this country is that a political party with under 45% of the total vote can have a huge majority. A political party with 25% of the total vote could have hardly any representation in parliament.

    The advantage of this system is that the party in power will have the power to get things done and they will get kicked out if they get things wrong.

    The imperfection of any form of proportional representation system is that you could forever get a hung parliament with government by compromise. This will work fine with a country that has no designs on being a global leader and with a successful economy and few foreign policy pressures. It will be a disaster for a country that needs to get things done and take tough decisions.

    I suspect that this proposed method of proportional represenation will result in individuals selecting the usual Con/Lab/LibDem as first choice with one of the extremist parties as second choice.

    On balance, I will vote for No Change.

  • Comment number 96.

    the majority of people dont have enough knowledge of politics to vote properly anyway. otherwise they would see that man is dominating man to his injury.

  • Comment number 97.

    86. At 11:17am on 26 Nov 2010, Magi Tatcher wrote:
    80. At 11:09am on 26 Nov 2010, frank wrote:

    We are allowed to vote for one party and yet now have a "government" of two parties. Is that actually democratic and fair? I do not think so, so yes something needs to change.

    Yes, it is democratic and fair. For this first time in my lifetime we have a government where the majority of people who voted actually voted for the one of the two parties in the coalition.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If this is the first time in your lifetime then it would imply the system is neither democractic or fair.

  • Comment number 98.

    @forclarification

    Just because someone lives somewhere, does not mean they know what they are talking about.

    For instance knowing the difference between democracy and totalitarian communism.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    64. At 10:44am on 26 Nov 2010, Magi Tatcher wrote:
    16. At 09:30am on 26 Nov 2010, pragmatickev wrote:

    The Tories only agreed to any kind of vote so they could grasp some sort of power. The LibDems similarly and, as seems to be the case nowadays, they accepted to the least radical form of PR

    And Labour offered it to the Liberal Democrats as part of their desperate attempt to hold onto power after the last election. Just goes to show what all politicians are like.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    No Labour had it in their manifesto. The Tories did not.

    You may hate labour for many things but the fact is they were publically committed to electoral reform and the tories were not, even quite the reverse.

    This is what makes Clegg's antics to get into power seem so ridiculous.

 

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