Why I'm supporting AV

Yesterday I said on Twitter that as I live in a safe seat I effectively have no vote. @charlotteV of the No campaign challenged me by asking how AV would change that. Since I can't answer it in 140 characters, I'll do so here, but be as brief as I can.

The constituency where I live hasn't changed party since 1955. We have had Labour and Tory landslides since then and still nothing will shift the party here. That means that our MP is actually chosen by the activists of that party and not by the constituents.

Now, as it happens, at the last election, he got over 51% of the vote. No argument, in any voting system he's the rightful MP. But in previous elections his predecessor often got well under 50% of the vote. Still more than the others, but less than half. On those occasions, I was in the majority. I was one of the people who did not vote for the winner and the party that I regard as loathsome.

If you live in a safe seat, and a lot of us do, you're likely to vote tactically. And I always vote the same way: for the person least likely to lose to the sitting MP. I know, everyone knows, that the MP will win again, and again, and again, so it's actually pointless, but what else can I do?

I really want to vote for someone I like, not against someone I despise for his politics; but in a system where a self-selecting handful of people choose my MP, I can do no other.

13 April 2011