... and, regular readers will also know that I was down in London for the most recent ERS Council Meeting just last weekend. There were some pretty significant decisions taken on Saturday, and I'm (personally) very pleased to see an important campaign starting to take shape today - some more background can be found here.
I'll explain a bit more in a second, but one of my colleagues summarised it very well on Saturday - a simple, clear explanation (I thought) and it goes like this:
- politics is broken (who would now disagree with that?)
- First-past-the-post (FPTP) is part of the problem
- the winner-takes-all mentality clearly pervades our whole 'body-politic'
- politicians cannot be trusted to fix this themselves
- after all, they are about to admit they can't be trusted to fix their own expenses by agreeing 'independent' oversight!
- to fix this problem, we need to ask those who matter most - the people of the UK
- we need a referendum on the voting system
- a promise of such a vote is, after all, a long-standing Government commitment
- we need that referendum vote as quickly as possible
- that should be on the day of the next General Election
And, as ERS Chair, I've just written to all our supporters laying out the need for the campaign that's been launched to achieve the above. I'll repeat that letter here:
“A formidable array of reformers is gathering to demand a referendum on the principle of PR be added to the ballot paper at the next election. Let the people decide if they want to blow fresh air into parliament.” Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
Westminster is in crisis. The events of the last week have dented the reputation of the entire political class, and shown to the country the growing gulf between politicians and public.
We need to call last orders on unrepresentative and ineffective parliaments, and on majority governments backed up by little more than a third of the votes. The present crisis has awakened people to the need for radical change and that gives us an opportunity to demand a new electoral system at Westminster.
That is why the Electoral Reform Society is joining with other organizations in demanding a referendum on the voting system on the day of the next general election. This may be Labour’s last chance to deliver on its promised referendum in 1997. We want to give people a chance to vote not just for their MP, but also for a fresh playing field for politics.
As a councillor in Scotland , elected by STV, I’ve seen first-hand how electoral reform has delivered real accountability in our town halls. If we are to see decent, accountable government at Westminster we will need your help.
It's time to take action ...
Today Polly Toynbee, Steve Richards, Helena Kennedy & George Monbiot have all taken aim at our decrepit system. But in every national, regional and local paper there is a living debate about the future of British democracy.
We need you to be a part of that debate. Get the message out in your area - on accountability, on choice, and on the need for real change at Westminster.
More information is available on our website. If you want to get more involved as our campaign for a referendum builds contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7928 1622.
Councillor Andrew Burns
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I hope some of you out there may join in :-)