Tory calls for voters to shun the alternative voting system

THE coalition government is under fire from former Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative candidate Chris Philp who claims the Liberal Democrat tuition fee debacle shows voters they “don’t really know what they are voting for”.

Speaking in his new role as London campaign director for the No To Alternative Vote Campaign, Mr Philp says the Lib Dem U-turn over the tuition fee rise serves as an example of the problems with coalition governments.

The government is set to announce a referendum on whether to change the electoral voting system from first-past-the-post to alternative vote (AV).

But Mr Philp says the existing system creates stronger governments.

“The alternative vote system would make coalition governments more likely,” he said.

“We’ve seen how weak an accountability there is in a coalition government with the Lib Dems ditching elements of their manifesto.

“With a coalition government, you don’t really know what you are voting for and the tuition fees issue shows that very well.”

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The proposed referendum looks set to take place on May 5 although a date is yet to be confirmed.

Voters would then decide whether to change to a system where people would rank all candidates in preferred order with their second, third, fourth votes, etc, being counted until one candidate has a 50 per cent share of the votes.

Mr Philp, who is organising a No To Alternative Vote stall in Hampstead High Street on January 8 to discuss the referendum with residents, says the AV system would not be fair.

“A seat like Hampstead and Kilburn would end up being decided by third or fourth votes from BNP voters,” he said. “As people get to know about what AV means I think more people will head towards the no side because it’s unfair that some people get to vote multiple times and it weakens accountability.

“As Nick Clegg said, AV is a ‘miserable little compromise’. It doesn’t meet the aspirations of people who support full proportional representation and it does make coalition governments more likely. It’s the worst of both worlds.”

But his former rival and Hampstead and Kilburn Lib Dem candidate Ed Fordham says fairness is exactly why AV should be introduced.

“Most sensible people who believe in representative government are for it,” he said. “If AV is good enough for the rest of the world, it’s good enough for Britain.

“The claim that it doesn’t lead to a strong coalition government is not factually correct. At the moment we do have a government that is strong.

“The current coalition government is elected by nearly 60 per cent of the country rather than the 40 per cent that usually governs Britain.

“The other important reason for changing things is all the people who don’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t count.

“All the evidence with AV is you have more people voting for who they actually want to win, rather than being forced to vote tactically.”