AV voting referendum: Matthew Elliott's viewpoint

Matthew Elliott, director of the No to AV campaign Matthew Elliott says switching to AV would cause political uncertainty

A referendum will be held on 5 May on whether to keep the first-past-the-post system for electing MPs or to switch to the alternative vote. The BBC is asking a variety of people to give their view.

"The alternative vote system would cost us £250m and install the Lib Dems as permanent kingmakers. Our country can't afford it.

We live in uncertain economic times. At the moment people are worried about their jobs, about their mortgages, about their weekly shop. What most people aren't worrying about is changing the voting system.

At a total cost of £250m, the alternative vote would pile political uncertainty on top of economic uncertainty and the only real beneficiaries of this expensive and unnecessary change would be the Liberal Democrats.

After each general election, the UK would face a Hung Parliament and we would have to wait patiently while the Lib Dems played one party off against the other behind closed doors.

THE REFERENDUM CHOICE

At the moment MPs are elected by the first-past-the-post system, where the candidate getting the most votes in a constituency is elected.

On 5 May all registered UK voters will be able to vote Yes or No on whether to change the way MPs are elected to the Alternative Vote system.

Under the Alternative Vote system, voters rank candidates in their constituency in order of preference.

Anyone getting more than 50% of first-preference votes is elected.

If no-one gets 50% of votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their backers' second choices allocated to those remaining.

This process continues until one candidate has at least 50% of all votes in that round.

Out would go manifesto commitments, on issues like tuition fees and VAT, until they had bargained their way to a policy which would benefit their party alone.

The only vote that would really count under AV would be Nick Clegg's.

As well as giving the Lib Dems a permanent place in coalition, under the alternative vote the candidate coming in second or third often ends up winning the election.

Instead of MPs that take a principled stand, AV would create a legion of bland politicians that would tell you whatever you wanted to hear and ditch their promises at the first sign of trouble.

The AV is no cure to the problems in British politics; it is little more than a placebo being sold to the British people by the very people who would stand to gain from its introduction.

The question the public need to ask is: at £250m, can we afford to bring in a voting system that would turn Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats into permanent kingmakers?

If your answer is no, please vote No on 5 May 2011."

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