'POWER FOR MINOR PLAYERS UNDER AV'

Independent – 12 April 2011

When a parliament is elected, there are just two outcomes which matter, irrespective of the voting system used.

The first is when the single biggest party has a safe overall majority. In this case, it is irrelevant whether the Government won the election with an overall margin of 70, 170 or 270 MPs. With any of these totals it will be able to get all its manifesto commitments through the Commons. And, if it breaks those promises, it can be held to account by the voters at the next election. First-past-the-post maximises the chances of a safe overall majority.

The second important outcome is when no single party has a safe overall majority, or indeed any overall majority at all – as was the case in 2010. To go into government, a party must do deals, or form coalitions, or otherwise risk having its proposals defeated. This is more likely to result from AV, which would boost the prospects of some third parties, like the Liberal Democrats, of holding the balance of power and naming their price for putting either Labour or the Conservatives or into power.

People who view coalitions which depend on third parties as more democratic, more accountable and more likely to keep pre-election promises than single-party governments, should vote for AV in May's referendum. The rest of us should firmly vote 'NO' to any such change.

(Dr) JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA