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Emma Sandrey – a Cardiff based volunteer – tells YTFV Wales why she is saying ‘YES!’ tomorrow. This essay was originally intended for ITV Wales, but they were unable to find anybody from the No campaign to fulfil the opposing slot …
It’s only a day to go until the referendum on whether we should change electoral systems from First Past the Post to the Alternative Vote. This campaign has been called a lot of things by a lot of people; from ‘once-in-a-generation’ (if we overlook this opportunity, we more than likely won’t see another chance for reform for a whole generation), ‘boring’ (we’d sooner get riled up about how votes are wasted in a television talent contest), ‘engaging’ (proper grass roots campaigning spear-headed by ordinary people) and ‘a waste of money’ (because democracy isn’t something we should be funding?).
I’m not going to tell you how you should perceive the Yes and No campaigns; chances are, you’ve made your mind up about that already. Instead, I’ll tell you what I know; politics is becoming more and more irrelevant to those whose lives are directly impacted by it – the general public.
Levels of engagement are low – we have ‘representatives’ being elected on as little as a third of their constituency vote. Little wonder then that many feel as if their vote doesn’t count – because under First Past the Post, a lot of the time, it genuinely doesn’t. Politicians know this – which is why most voters are lucky to come into contact with one candidate, if at all, during elections. It is not the electorate who are to blame for low turn out; it is the snobbery of dinosaurs who can’t bear the idea of more people having a say, threatening their safe seats, their jobs for life culture.
So it follows that a positive change in the system, reform, is a start, an olive branch towards bridging the gap between politicians and the people they are supposed to represent. Instead of merely needing a third, AV demands that the winning candidate achieves an actual majority (50% or more) by running off candidates in order of preference (with the least popular dropping out at each round, with the second, third etc… preferences being counted and votes re-assigned) until someone has the most.
It is not complicated. It is not expensive. It doesn’t require £250 million funding for counting machines. No money will be saved by a ‘no’ vote. It won’t help elect the BNP, as they don’t command enough support. It does not allow you to vote more than once. Wanting a better democracy, a fairer, more balanced Westminster will not kill babies or deny soldiers the essential equipment that they need.
It may create coalitions but, hey, so did First Past the Post! With opinions diversifying and the political landscape changing to reflect that, coalitions and hung parliaments are an inevitable part of our political future. Two party politics just isn’t the way the forward and it isn’t true to how people feel.
If MPs have to impress more of us, there’s less of a chance that they’ll behave inappropriately – meaning events such as the expenses scandal are significantly less likely. If an MP had to answer to a wider approval base, rather than the largest minority, wouldn’t they think twice about taking liberties at the tax payer’s expense? If the large majority of your constituency didn’t have to vote you in, why would you care how they feel or what they think?
Under AV, you can declare multiple preferences – much like in day-to-day life when you decide with friends what film to see at the cinema or where to go for a meal. You go for what pleases the most people, overall, rather than end up with a majority of
disgruntled mates doing something they didn’t agree to. Having the ability to express various opinions also rids the need for tactical voting; you can vote for what you truly want, rather than the person you hate least.
We can’t afford to throw away this opportunity. Democracy is too important to take for granted. How can we go abroad, preaching about the virtues of it, when ours is so clearly broken?
The No campaign wants the electorate kept in their place – with little say in how the country is run. We at the Yes campaign believe that it should be the people who hold the power, not the politicians. That’s why we are voting yes on May 5th and that’s why you should too.
We spent the afternoon campaigning with Eddie Izzard in Cardiff today – as part of his UK tour talking to voters on behalf of Yes to Fairer Votes. We were joined by over 30 volunteers and Wales’ former First Minister Rhodri Morgan, and his wife and current Labour Party Welsh Assembly candidate for Cardiff North – Julie Morgan.
Keep an eye out for blogs, videos and photos from the event, but we have a little treat for you from our media team:
It’s the final countdown… The last week of the campaign to make your voice heard and to make our voting system more representative, more engaging and fairer. This time next week, the polls will be open and we will be working hard all over Wales to make sure people are turning out to say ‘Yes’!
You can help!
If you can spare any time next Thursday – even if it’s just your lunch hour – you can help. So sign up to give a day in May, and to make sure Wales and the UK say YES!
Don’t forget, Eddie Izzard will be visiting Wales this Sunday to join us campaigning in Cardiff Bay! For more details – click here.
We are delighted to announce that Eddie Izzard will be joining the Yes to Fairer Votes team in Wales, this coming Sunday (May 1st) in Cardiff Bay.
Speaking at the campaign launch in London, earlier this month, he said:
“It is as simple as one, two, three – you have a choice of putting down just one choice, or two or three… It will be one person, one definite vote, before it was one invisible person whose vote does not get counted.
“It will mean MPs will have to work harder to get your vote because not only do they have to talk to their core support, but also to other people to get them down as a second choice.
“It’s a fairer system, and in this world people want more choice. It’s not like it was in the Fifties when broadly people were voting for the Labour Party or Tories.
“Politics is multi-coloured and people’s lives are multi-coloured. We have never had a chance in 100 years to vote for how we do the voting, so I think it is good we take this chance otherwise we will wake up with politics as usual on May 6.”
We’re moving into the final few days of the campaign now, and a real push is need to get the message out across Wales. This is a once a lifetime chance to change politics in the UK. A once in a lifetime chance to make politics more representative and more engaging.
Our Cardiff team will be out all throughout this week, speaking to voters and spreading the message of fairer votes.
On TUESDAY 26TH, we will be door-knocking Canton. Details here.
On WEDNESDAY 27TH, we will be in Grangetown. Click for more details.
And, on THURSDAY 28TH, we will be holding a street stall in Llandaf (or is it Llandaff?). Find out more here.
If you can’t make it to these events, but would still like to help our Cardiff group, please get in touch with the Cardiff group co-ordinator, Llyr Ap Gareth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re moving into the final weeks of this campaign for a fairer voting system, and we need to get the message to as many people is possible! Spread these videos which show why First Past the Post is broken, and that AV is a suitable alternative, and is a huge improvement on what we currently have.
‘A small change that will make a big difference’
We have always called Yes to Fairer Votes a people’s campaign, but the extent to which ordinary people have actually bankrolled it has exceeded all expectations. If you have made a contribution – thanks so much. It has really been making a difference.
You can still donate to the campaign here, or if you would like to get involved in the campaign in Wales, please contact email@example.com
The Yes to Fairer Votes campaign received a huge show of support in Connah’s Quay last week, as they hit back at claims from the ‘No’ campaign that the BNP would profit from the introduction of the Alternative Vote.
National Co-ordinator, Iestyn Davies, said:
Nick Griffin and the BNP are campaigning for a No vote in the coming referendum because they know the Alternative Vote will “hurt them” and stop them making gains in places like North Wales.
The current system allows candidates to sneak in on a tiny minority of the vote. AV penalises extremist parties by forcing candidates to reach out to the majority of voters.
After spending the morning in the south – taking in Cardiff, Newport & Pontypridd – the team travelled North and received a warm welcome from the team in Connah’s Quay – led by Lib Dem Assembly Candidate Peter Williams and Alyn & Deeside Labour Youth Office, Steven Tattum.
The day was a success, with plenty of people hearing the ‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ message, and it was followed the next day by a day of action in the North Wales town – which saw a street stall taking place on the High Street.
The campaign continues to gain momentum in Wales, with thousands of leaflets being delivered every week, and events up and down the country! You can still help – just get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org