The Labour Case for AV

The Alternative Vote (AV) is simple. It retains the link between our MP and the constituency and – above all – it is fair in that every vote counts. There are no wasted votes. Political parties will need to work harder to win votes for second and third preferences – not just the first.

AV means the voter places a 1 (or X) against their first choice candidate and, if they wish, a 2 against their second preference, a 3 against their 3rd. and so forth transferring as far as they choose. Every MP will command the support of over 50% of their voters compared to a small minority now.

This means that rather than a General Election just being fought among a few swing voters in a few marginal constituencies – it will be a truly national election. Turnout will increase as everyone sees a purpose in them voting in their constituency.

While we are luck to have a Labour MP, there are some 200 constituencies mainly in the south of England where Labour is third, often a poor third place. Labour voters face that awful dilemma of whether to vote with their principles for Labour and risk ending up with a Tory MP or to grit their teeth and vote Lib Dem tactically to keep the Tories out. AV will mean they will be able to Vote Labour 1, Lib Dem 2 etc. so their vote counts for Labour but will then be used to keep the Tory MP out.

The same with stopping the BNP and other ultra-right forces. They have only ever picked up seats in first past the post elections with around 30-35% of the vote. All the evidence is that supporters of other parties would transfer to the party most likely to beat the BNP.

Just think about Blackheath Westcombe ward in the last three local elections, had we used an AV voting system then Green votes and the largest proportion of Lib Dem votes would have transferred to Labour probably giving us two if not three Labour councillors – and reflecting the progressive majority in the ward.

Labour promised an AV referendum in our General election manifesto. It will help put some trust back in politics and more power in the hands of voters. Some Labour people have claimed that the Tory-Lib Dem coalition will only lead to a pact whereby they will just give each other second preferences and pose a threat to Labour. However, all the polling and actual evidence from elections suggest that Lib Dems are (still now) more likely to prefer Labour to the Conservatives. For all the evidence on this….and more about the Labour Yes campaign go to

David Gardner


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