UK Politics

AV voting referendum: Charles Kennedy's view

Image caption Charles Kennedy has campaigned for electoral change for nearly 30 years

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 (AV). The BBC is asking a variety of people to give their view.

I was a student at Glasgow University in 1972 when Scotland first held a referendum on devolution.

Despite massive public support for the change, it was almost twenty years before we were finally given the chance to have our say again.

If we vote no to AV this May, who knows how long we'll have to wait for electoral reform.

First-past-the-post isn't worth the paper it's written on.

It's a system created for the days of two big parties in Parliament, whereas in 2010 more than a third of the UK voted for one of the smaller parties.

AV isn't necessarily perfect, but it is a fair and democratically representative option that will eliminate the Westminster clichés of safe seats and jobs for life.

It will maintain the one good feature of first-past-the-post - a strong MP-constituency link - whilst forcing MPs to represent the interests of every one of their constituents.

Hard-won opportunity

The No 2 AV campaign know all about the unfair results delivered by first-past-the-post. That is why they have to make up inaccurate facts about costs and display offensive adverts to try and gather support.

They are clutching at straws to such an extent that they are now trying to turn this hard-won opportunity for real democratic reform into a judgement on Nick Clegg and the coalition government.

The electorate already has an opportunity to deliver a verdict on the government - at a general election.

Ever since entering into the world of politics almost thirty years ago, I have campaigned for electoral reform, becoming the President of both Dagger (Democratic Action Group for Gaining Electoral Reform) and the Liberal Democrat Group of the Electoral Reform Society.

It is not hard to imagine, therefore, how delighted I was to hear that we as a nation are finally going to be able to deliver a verdict on our outdated and ineffective voting system.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I urge you to help make our democracy fairer and more representative.

Make sure that your MP has to work for you and for each and every other member of your constituency, rather than just the core support found in so many seats under the current system.

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