A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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No2AV
29/03/2011 21:11:00

 
 

As you may know, on 5th May there will be a national referendum on whether we should change the system by which we elect MPs. The choice is between the current system, first-past-the-post, where whoever gets the most votes wins; and the Alternative Vote (AV) system, where you rank candidates in order of preference and if one candidate gets more than half of the first preference votes they win, if not the bottom candidate is eliminated and the second preferences of those who voted for that candidate are allocated to the other candidates and so on until someone has more than half the votes.

Although it’s not perfect, I think we should stick with the current system for the reasons set out below. But my main concern is that many of the people I talk to don’t even know that the referendum is taking place, let alone what the options are and their pros and cons. To try to address that, this evening I spoke at a public meeting held at Ruskin House alongside Labour MP and President of the No2AV campaign Margaret Beckett (the ‘Yes’ campaign was invited to supply speakers but sadly chose not to do so, though thankfully there were some ‘Yes’ supporters in the audience so there was a pretty balanced discussion).

My starting point is that there’s no such thing as a perfect voting system – if there was, everyone would be using it. People’s views as to which system is best tend to depend on what they attach importance to.

Personally, I think the most important thing in a voting system for the House of Commons is that it delivers a strong government that can take decisions and which people can hold to account if it doesn’t deliver its manifesto promises. Our current system normally delivers such a government, although to be fair it didn’t last May.

Other people think the most important thing is that the number of MPs each party has in the House of Commons is proportional to the number of votes they got across the country as a whole and therefore support proportional representation systems like the Single Transferable Vote (STV). They argue that our current system is unfair because smaller parties tend to be under-represented. I can understand this argument but the problem with proportional systems is that they lead to perpetual coalition government. Whilst I support the current coalition – I think it was the best outcome given the result of the last Election – I don’t think perpetual coalition government would be a good thing for two reasons. First, it would mean the Liberal Democrats would always be in government. And second, coalitions give politicians an excuse for not delivering their promises – they can legitimately say, “I know I promised to do x but we didn’t win an overall majority and our coalition partners wouldn’t agree to do it”. I think the way to address the problem with our current system is to have a second chamber that is elected by a proportional system – no party having an overall majority in the second chamber, which has a revising function, is a positively good thing.

But the key point with regard to 5th May is that hardly anyone thinks that AV is the best system – most of the people who are currently trying to convince you to vote for it actually want STV. Personally, I think it is the worst system. It is confusing, more expensive to administer and can be less proportional (the evidence suggests that under AV Margaret Thatcher would have won an even bigger majority in 1983 and Tony Blair an even bigger majority in 1997 – would that have been good for the country?) Only three countries in the world use it – Fiji (but they are getting rid of it), Australia (but 60% of Australians want to get rid of it) and Papua New Guinea. The only arguments people make for it is that it:

- ensures that each MP gets at least half of the vote - but it only does that by counting the second, third, fourth etc preferences of supporters of fringe parties and treating these as of equal value to other people’s first preference votes (and even then it only works if everyone expresses second, third, fourth etc preferences, which the evidence suggests many people will not). Take the recent Labour leadership election: after everyone’s first preference votes had been counted, David Miliband had 37.8% of the votes, his brother Ed 34.3% yet once the second, third and even fourth preferences of people who voted for Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham or Ed Balls had been re-allocated Ed Miliband was declared to have got at least half the vote and to have won. How is that fair?

- puts an end to safe seats – this is clearly nonsense: MPs in safe seats get more than 50% of the vote so AV would make no difference to them.

As I said at the start, our current system isn’t perfect, but it is better than the alternative that’s on offer. That’s why I’ll be voting no to AV.

Comment on this blog

 

Readers' Comments

On 30/03/2011 01:14:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
You've clearly forgotten the Feburary 1974 election when the Conservative party got 200,000 more votes than Labour but had 4 less MPs to show for it. So you won the election in terms of votes but lost in terms of MPs.

This situation has happened more than once under FPTP although I think that was the only time under universal sufferage. People forget that although some women got the vote after 1918 it was subject to qualifications and we didn't actually have full universal sufferage till 1928. Indeed Oxford and Cambridge had their own "postgradute voted for" MPs voted for via a form of postal PR right up till 1950. And of course multiple votes for owners of second homes weren't abolished till the 50s and the business vote for local authorities still exists in the City of London in exponential relation to the number of employeees on the spurious argument that "not enough real people live there".

In the 1983 election, the Labour party got 27.6% of the votes which translated into 209 MPs; the Liberal party got 25.4% of the votes which translated into 23 MPs. Slightly disproportionate?

In the 2001 election, the Labour party got 40.7% of the votes and had 62.5% of the seats; the Conservative party got 31.7% of the votes and had 25.5% of the seats. So it took 26,031 votes to elect each Labour MP and yet 50,345 votes to elect each Conservative MP

A bit alienating to the voter?

"Take the recent Labour leadership election: after everyone’s first preference votes had been counted, David Miliband had 37.8% of the votes, his brother Ed 34.3% yet once the second, third and even fourth preferences of people who voted for Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham or Ed Balls had been re-allocated Ed Miliband was declared to have got at least half the vote and to have won. How is that fair?"

I dont think anyone in the party had an issue with that aspect of it.

And even if they did is it actually more random than the above?

Also I dont see how you can argue AV is right in one situation but not another.

Neither can you logically say Mrs T would have won a bigger majority in 83 since we dont know how second preferences would have been divided.

The argument that voters for the fringe parties get to re-use their votes also ignores the fact that everybody has the same ability to vote tactically under AV as they do under FPTP.

Cost is a parsimonious argument against any change to the franchise. British Government was in coalition pretty much for the whole of the 1930s up to 45. Society didn't fall apart. Indeed it worked so well that they actually suspended democracy for the whole of the second world war - as indeed they had done in the first world war.

Whatever the answer voter participation in this country is absolutely pitiful.

The statistics above, as I'm sure you have guessed, are stolen from

Our Fight for Democracy by John Strafford of the Yes to AV campaign

Whatever your view on AV it is a highly entertaining read with many highly amusing chapters on some of the more ludicrous forms government has taken in the past from the days when the most important reason for attending the hustings was for the free firewood after they were dismantled right back to the Saxon Witans...

 
On 31/03/2011 09:51:00 Gavin Barwell wrote:
Anthony

I want to focus on two points you make which go to the core of this argument.

First, you argue I can't "logically say Mrs T would have won a bigger majority in 83 since we dont know how second preferences would have been divided". There is lots of academic research on this - see for example http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8506306.stm. I should have said 1987 by the way, not 1983.

Second, you say "The argument that voters for the fringe parties get to re-use their votes also ignores the fact that everybody has the same ability to vote tactically under AV as they do under FPTP". This simply isn't true. Under our current system, everyone gets their vote counted once and each vote has equal value. Under AV, people who vote for upopular candidates get their second and maybe third, fourth or more preferences counted but those who vote for the two most popular candidates don't. And the lower preferences of say a BNP supporter are counted as equal to my first preference. I simply don't understand how anyone can think this is fair.

 
On 31/03/2011 12:01:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
While it may appear that the bottom candidate’s supporters are getting a second vote they do not. In the second round of counting, every voter again has one vote. If their favourite candidate is still in the race, it is their first preference that counts. If their top choice has been eliminated, their second or lower preference counts. No one has more than one vote. It is the allocation system of the vote that has changed.

A preferential allocation system is not equivalent to mathematical re-addition. Saying that the votes are recounted rather than reallocated is reducing a multiple choice system to a binary choice system and assume that the question people were asked at the ballot box was “which candidate do you want to win” whereas actually it is “in what order do you prefer the candidates”. The question asked on the ballot paper is not a simple binary one.

The results of an AV election are published in such a way that people can see how each round of the reallocation system works. The biggest argument against AV is that people of limited intelligence might not be able to analyse the mathematical model in such a way as to play it to best advantage.

One of the advantages of AV in the leadership election is that you can see exactly to what extent the candidates are preferred by the party as a whole which I think gives people a greater sense of involvement than a FPTP system when tactical voting is employed - which it is much more efficiently now due to the thing called the internet.

Also AV reduces the effect of constituency gerrymandering that can be achieved by boundary sizes so what we’d lose financially in man hours counting the votes we’d gain in not having to spend as much on arguing over constituency shapes. I don’t know if you’ve looked at the boundaries recently but we have some very interesting shapes out there.

If you really believe in FPTP why do you personally tell people to vote tactically when by telling people before the election that “only you can beat Labour here so they should vote for you” you are actually asking people to simplify their voting choice to a tactical one and do the kind of calculations that AV involves outside the ballot box in their head as there is not mathematic process to do such calculations inside the ballot box – in effect reducing the ballot to a runoff system. While this may be logical it gives the impression that all politicians are totally cynical and is extremely alienating to the public giving them the impression that the party machines and their funders totally own the political system. One has to ponder too how if you’re such a big fan of OMOV FPTP why don’t you have it for internal conservative party candidate selection? If the parties were democracy and funding was more transparent and they had more members and voter participation was higher your arguments against AV might ring truer.

Whether they are BNP supporters or not is of no relevance to the value of the system. It should simply come down to “do you think its fair or not”? I can see both arguments. But the way I see it no vote is counted twice. However, I can see how someone might reach the conclusion that this is because I can't count.

 
On 31/03/2011 14:46:00 mike jackson wrote:
No one has yet had the decency to tell me what happens if I do not fill in any prefeneces other than the person I want to win.

1. Does my ballot paper count?

2. Does some faceless bureaucrat fiddle my form to say what he thinks, skewing the voting?

3. Is there a cosy cross party scam to engineer a result to suit the parties?

This referendum is a complete waste of time (and money) to the British public, which would have really taken notice if we had been asked whether we wished to stay in the other great bureuacratic dictatorship, the EU. But, of course, the three majpor parties all have vested interests in the "Failed politicians club" - after all when they lose their seats, they get on the great gravy train based in Brussels. Brittan, Kinnock x2, Mandelson, etc.etc.

 
On 01/04/2011 23:44:00 Jim wrote:
It is a difficult issue, but on balance I am in favour of AV. The main reason is that I do believe that if someone's first choice is eliminated, then their second choice should rank with the votes of others. You give the example of a BNP supporter, but what about a Green supporter, a UK supporter or even my mother if I were to stand? With FPTP, there is unfairness in that if you can't have who you really want, then any views you have about the merits of the remaining candidates don't count at all. Because of this, people are often forced to vote for their second or third choice if they think their first choice doesn't stand a chance (ie the "wasted vote" thing). Ironically that is a criticism of AV.

In the last election in Croydon Central, I'm sure many Conservative-minded voters were concerned that the vote might have been split between Andrew Pelling and you. Maybe you were worried too! AV would avoid these concerns. Clearly it would have been wrong if the Labour candidate had won in these circumstances.

I might change my mind on this - I can see that in some scenarios tactical voting with AV could also produce an undesirable outcome.

But I would have had no problem with Margaret Thatcher obtaining larger majorities in 1983 or 1987! (Remember Francis Pym's remarks in 1983?)

 
On 02/04/2011 23:19:00 Gavin Barwell wrote:
Mike

If you just express a first preference, your vote still counts.

Gavin

 
On 04/04/2011 09:40:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
If you put a 1 instead of 1,2,3 then your vote is counted but not transferred. So if you ONLY want to vote for a Conservative candidate because you believe in that set of policies to the exclusion of all others you only put a 1 next to Conservative and your vote cannot be used to benefit a 2nd or 3rd party. However, if your object in voting Conservative is to keep Labour out then you should put a 2 next to the Liberal Democrats as the 3rd most popular party - this would be a tactical vote under AV. There still is some tactical voting but it is mathematically negated in effect - in theory. It is still possible to use tactical techniques to an extent under AV. Of course if everyone just puts a 1 next to only one candidate this reduces the system down to a FPTP election. The Conservaties could say "dont use your 2nd preference vote" but then would Liberal Democrat voters be inclined to encourage their members to give them 2nd preferences.

In response to Gavin's point about the order in which the candidates votes are redistributed, while it would seem superficially that this would make Michael Castle and John Cartwright the most influential candidates in the election this is not actually true. The winner must get 50% of the vote. Gavin got 39.5%. For all the small parties to have effective power they would have to band together as a group and and collectively get all their voters to all put their 2nd preferrences to one of the two most popular candidates. The BNP, UKIP, Greens, Christian, Independent, Monster Raving Loony Party and Michael Castle self publicity party all only have collectively 7.3%. Even if these were all allocated to Gavin he would still only have 46.5% of the votes. If on top of this Andrew Pelling's 6.5% had had their 2nd preferences transferred to him it would only just push him over the finish line with 53.3%. There is no way Gerry Ryan could win without it going to a final round even if Pelling and all the small parties were to transfer him their 2nd preferances - he'd still have only 47.3% of the vote. Therefore the voters who become decisive are the 13.2% of Liberal Democrat votes.

So from a party political angle you can see why the Lib Dems are such avid fans of AV and why Ed Miliband is keen on it. They calculate that it will "keep the Tories out". Still no one ever changed the voting system to something that wasn't in their own self interest. There is no doubt that under AV the Lib Dems would pick up some seats in three way marginals. Not that many but enough that if the 2010 election had been AV the result would be a Lab/Lib coalition not a Con/Lib coalition.

However, compare the above senario to the 2005 election where the small parties' votes really did count enormously making it extremely desirable for Andrew Pelling to spend a lot of time and money wooing Monster Raving Loony voters as it was their 0.4% that made the difference between him of Geriant Davies winning. It is situations like this above all that are the best argument against AV. Would the issues of Mr Pelling's personal life that overshadowed the 2010 election have been so important under AV? Perhaps but I think not.

Of course this is missing out the bigger picture a bit - under an AV system there's no doubt that in the long term the number of parties would change slightly. Duverger's law http://rangevoting.org/Duverger.html

attempts to explain how the number of parties is a function of the voting system you use. AV will increase the number of parties slightly but nowhere near to the extent that, for example, closed list PR does. One of the reasons there are more parties now is that we have PR for European elections - without which the BNP and UKIP would be extremely impotent.

With regard to the point about what happens in the final round to the 2nd preferances of those who vote for the two most popular candidates. Well, the object is to determine who has the most popular support not to count votes beyond the point of any logic. In the final round Candidate A's 2nd preferences must transfer to Candidate B and Candidate B's 2nd preferences must transfer to Candidate A. There is no one else to transfer them to. Thus the logic is that if you counted 2nd preferences in the final round they would eliminate each other - also they would no longer be 2nd preferences but 1st preferences and so the ballot papers of each person would not be being treated as of equal value.

Of course an interesting theoretical permutation is if the 2nd place candidate had been voted for by a substantial number of people who had not expressed any second preferences but the leading candidate had been voted for by a number of people who had expressed 2nd preferences so that if you counted 2nd preferences in the final round the 2nd candidate would get more votes. However, if you count second preferences in the final round this is actually nonsense as it is actually counting votes twice and I think the statistical likelihood of such an outcome would be slim in the extreme.

It is also highly unlikely that the most popular candidate's voters would want to transfer their votes to the second most popular candidate as the candidates who come first and second tend to be politically polarised from each other by definition.

 
On 04/04/2011 09:43:00 simon wrote:
If 40% of people who bothered to vote choose candidate A and 60% choose candidates B through to H, through FPTP candidate A wins but under AV it could be that another candidate could win.

That isn't people getting their choice of who they want, it's "the people" getting to choose who they don't want. From the moaning after the last general election I can see that getting to choose who you don't want is what many crave so they must be really happy. Getting voted in because lots of folk didn't want "the other guy" is hardly a mandate and, well, just doesn't feel right.

I think it is wrong that we, the voters, have been excluded from the actual choice of voting systems. FPTP and AV are two types of voting system but there are more options and I personally think the voters should have had a discussion (debate!) and a referendum on the voting systems they get to, eventually, choose.

FPTP and AV seem to me to be the two systems that most support the retention of two dominating political parties. Or to put it another way, AV is the voting system that is most likely to have the least effect.

FPTP has the benefit that at least, using the earlier example, 40% of the people get their first choice.

The AV option doesn't offer that. It says that we will only count the opinions given until we get to a given percentage (50% or 50% + 1?). That is to say that on many occasions the decision on who is voted in will be based on the opinions of people who voted for the likes of The Monster Raving Loony Party!

I would have preferred a version of the ranked or rated voting systems, where all choices were counted (at least initially). This would mean that on the first count every ones opinions mattered, like FPTP.

AV ignores the second choices of the candidates that are most popular but takes account of the opinions of the voters that voted for the least popular candidates. In a ranked or rated system you take into account all of the choices made by all of the voters, losing the least popular choices until you get to the target number that decides the winner.

Many of the Yes voters will be voting Yes not because they want AV but because they hope it is a stepping stone to getting something else. Optimism is going to give us a negative voting system!

I'm a cynic and believe that whatever we end up with we will be stuck with for the next century or so, which is why I think we should have had a say in what we actually vote on.

If we do get AV then I hope some of the smaller players in the political scene will cease to be political parties and will change to more of a lobbying format so that they don't skew results in unwanted (by them) directions.

 
On 11/04/2011 12:06:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
Simon, the answer to that is that AV is the only system it was thought anyone would agree on as a replacement for FPTP. AV is a form of runoff voting. The system by which the leader of the Conservative party has been elected for years till they moved to an AV system to involve more of the membership in the decision. How a runoff ballot system works is:

All candidates put their hats in the ring. MPs vote. The Candidate with the least votes is eliminated. There’s then a second ballot and a third and a fourth till there are only two candidates and the one with over 50% gets elected as party leader. The idea of the system is to select the candidate who can bring the greatest political stability to the party.

However, the system was not just designed to prevent schism and splits in the Conservative party. Under our Constitution the Queen selects the Prime Minister as the person who can command majority support in the house of Commons and the PM selects the cabinet. So the PM selects the legislature. Whereas in a Presidential system there are separate elections for each. Therefore by definition the PM must have the support of over 50% of the Parliamentary party and if no candidate can be found who can achieve this then the decision of whether the existing PM should stay resides with the Queen. If there were competing contenders and it was unclear who should be leading the party or it was not clear then the legislature could become estranged from the parliamentary party and this would mean that you could have a government formulating laws but being unable to pass any. Of course if you want to involve the actual members as well as MPs in a runoff system like this the only way is AV so this is why both the Conservative and Labour parties ended up using AV systems to elect their leaders – it’s a Constitutional necessity that the leader has support of well over half the party.

This put the Queen in a difficult position constitutionally so the 1922 Committee came up with a runoff election system to avoid these problems. However, it didn’t solve all the Constitutional problems. For example, having formed a Coalition, David Cameron couldn’t split from the Liberal Democrats or visa versa without precipitating a General Election so he tried to raise the number of MPs votes needed to dissolve Parliament to 55% “to create stability” but he fortunately abandoned this plan when David Davis pointed out that it would simply create a different Constitutional crisis now rather than the one it was meant to prevent at an unspecified point in the future.

However, he could have formed a minority government without the Liberal Democrats but he can't invite them in then disown them without precipitating an election.

The Conservative Parliamentary Party is not the only political elite to have used runoff voting – the Pope is still selected via this method – although as it is impossible to remove him once in office a 75% threshold rather than a 50% threashold is set.

The other reason of course for political elites using runoff systems is that these elections are often precipitated suddenly and candidates cannot canvass support openly in the early stages as they may damage their careers by looking disloyal and/or the party by giving an impression of disunity (which is of course the reality).

The concept of AV is that instead of having a series of ballots you create one ballot paper who’s numbering system offers the voter the choice of all the various permutations of each round of the runoff system instantaneously – Instant Runoff Voting or AV. However, the difference between runoff voting and AV is that in a runoff election there is a time interval between each stage allowing for canvassing and changes of opinion. Runoff voting cannot be implemented other than by AV at a general election because of the time factor. Every constituency’s votes must be counted at the same time or it is not fair on other voters as some voters would gain tactical advantage. Also costs would be prohibitive.

The other systems on offer would be list based PR or STV. The problem with true proportional representation is it would break the constituency-MP link. Thus people at the top of the party lists would become unassailable. Usually PR involves dividing the country up by geographic regions and use a highest averages method formula to allocate seats. However there’s no perfect mathematical method of allocating seats under list based PR – usually the D'Hondt method is used but you can also Sainte-Laguë and get slightly different results. The D'Hondt method is used for the 'top-up' seats in the London Assembly which fudges a FPTP single member constituency system with a D'Hondt method top-up system with the result that there are London Assembly members without any constituency link at all which raises the question – who writes to them about anything? Also the results you can get under all PR methods actually change depending on the size of your constituency/area and the number of seats it is designed to return. The larger you make the area the better it is for the 3rd party…

STV is a mathematical system for trying to approximate a PR system in a multi-member constituency. A threshold is set for a maximum number of votes to win a seat based on the total possible number of votes. As with AV the voter ranks candidates and then a candidate breaks through this barrier their “extra votes” beyond the threshold are reallocated to their second preference. If no one else now breaks the barrier the candidate with the least votes is eliminated as in an AV election. The next person to break the barrier’s votes are then reallocated etc etc… and the process continues till the allocated number of seats in the multi-member constituency have been filled. The concept of this system is to allow the voter to choose to back a party while not necessarily backing a particular candidate. For example you might decide you wanted to vote Conservative but you prefer Gavin Barwell to Richard Ottaway and if there were only enough Conservatives votes for one of them to get in it would be Mr Barwell. However, if you apply STV in a single member constituency there is no point in reallocating votes once the first candidate has crossed the finishing line as there are no votes to re-allocate so you’ve just recreated an AV election.

Therefore AV is the only semi-proportional mathematical system which fully preserves the single member constituency. As no one wants to abolish single member constituencies the result is it’s AV or FPTP or …erm… nothing I suppose unless you want to do the London Assembly thing but then you end up with MPs without constituencies.

Of course it’s quite ironic that there is a No to AV because it’s not PR campaign led by David Owen. Which just goes to show that there are some Liberal Democrats who’s been campaigning for PR for so long they’ve forgotten why they started and makes one realise why they are the 3rd party in the first place.

The other reason you can't have a referendum on multiple voting systems is that a referendum question has to be a binary one. If the question was would you prefer FPTP, AV, PR or STV then how would the result be decided by FPTP, AV, PR or STV?

This is why no one’s interested in constitutional reform. It’s as interesting as watching paint dry. After all it doesn’t matter how many ways can you add up minority party votes if no one’s interested in their opinion.

 
On 23/04/2011 12:05:00 Simon wrote:
I popped back as I just read an article where Vince Cable, supporting Yes to AV, says vote Yes to "block Tories" - see http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/22/vote-for-av-vince-cable.

The problem is that if the Tories don't get elected then Labour will be. At the moment we switch back and forth and the problems that both main parties bring don't have an irreversible effect. If AV does what Mr Cable suggests then we'll have never ending Labour governments and that cannot be good.

But having popped back I saw the reply from Anthony Miller; please accept my thanks for the response.

I was reasonably aware of the various other voting systems, and actually prefer one I don't believe you mentioned. Never mind, we aren't getting a choice anyway!

One thing I had not realised was "... you can't have a referendum on multiple voting systems...a referendum question has to be a binary one."

Is this actually still based on the ancient Greek (well, Athenian) practise of voting using different coloured pebbles? I had assumed that they tended to be that way to simplify the voting and because generally we, the public, are treated like idiots. It's kind of scary that the only time we truly get to offer an opinion it's limited in this way and that there's been so little progress over the millennia!

Anyway, many thank for the response and the information.

 
On 26/04/2011 22:01:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
"One thing I had not realised was "... you can't have a referendum on multiple voting systems...a referendum question has to be a binary one. Is this actually still based on the ancient Greek (well, Athenian) practise of voting using different coloured pebbles?"

Simon, the point I am making is that you could ask a more complicated question. But the political purpose of a referendum is to show that there is political will for a particular policy (usually one that involves a constitutional change). So they tend to be binary choices so that politicians can say at the end of them "We asked everyone and more than half the people said 'We want it'"

Whereas if you asked people, for example, if they prefered AV+, STV or FPTP then 34% might vote for FPTP, and 33% each for AV+ and STV. So 66% are in favour of some form of PR but 34% are in favour of FPTP. Yet FPTP is the most popular system voted for so all three sides could claim "victory".

A yes or no question - though over simplistic - yeilds a "decisive" answer. Therefore the questions in referendums tend to be binary.

Which goes to show that they do have their limitations.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that this referendum is unique in that the result will be legally binding on the Government. If people vote Yes we WILL have AV. There's no ifs or buts about it - it's in the Bill and was signed by the Queen.

Of course referendums are kind of rare in the UK but I had an email from someone in Idaho who says they're very big out there. Apparently referendums are used by voters to repeal laws

that have already been passed by state legislature if they get enough signatures - 18,000. There are currently 3 referendums/petitions that the citizens are collecting signatures on.

And with 160,000 valid signatures you can win a Referendum at which you can unseat any elected state official so long as at it you pass a 250,000 vote threashold, which is an interesting way of doing things...

 
 

 

 

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