MPs to say no to voting reform

HARTLEPOOL’S Iain Wright is among 15 MPs to sign an open letter saying no to a change in the electoral system.

A referendum is being held on May 5 to give people the choice between the current first past the post system and the alternative vote (AV), which sees people ranking those up for election in order of preference.

Mr Wright is one of 15 North-East Labour MPs to sign an open letter urging people to say no to AV because they “strongly support the principal of one person one vote”.

The signatories also include MP for Easington Grahame Morris and Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson.

The letter states: “There is no evidence that a change in the electoral system will increase public confidence in politics

“Indeed, it is more likely to confuse the electorate and bring unpredictable results, leading to a decrease in confidence in the system.

“We strongly believe that people should be brought closer to politics and AV very much goes against this.

“AV will make coalition governments more likely. Coalitions mean having a government no-one voted for, making decisions no one agreed to behind closed doors.”

The MPs also claim that AV is only used to elect government’s in Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, and that six out of 10 Australians want to change their system and Fiji has made plans to scrap it.

Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart Bell, chairman of Labour’s First Past the Post Group, said: “The electorate should not sleepwalk into this referendum and discover they have voted for a nightmare.

“The change in the system is a change to our constitution, leading us away from stable government to the kind of topsy-turvy coalition we have at the moment.”