The Labour No2AV campaign launched today and thought I'd reproduce the below piece from their site while I muck around writing another blog post.
Socialism is, among other things, about organising society along democratic lines. In the here and now that means favouring more democratic systems of governance so the state becomes more amenable to the pressures and aspirations stemming from below. This is the reason why I favour the proportional representation generally and the single transferable vote in particular (see here). The first pass the post system we have now has the distinction of having only one voting system worse than it from this standpoint. And that is the system we're having a referendum on on May 5th.
What about Proportional Representation
It is important to remember this referendum is about the Alternative Vote system. NO to AV does not take an official position on proportional representation.
Some of our supporters back PR – such as Labour MP Margaret Hodge – while others prefer the current system.
There are strong principled arguments for and against PR, and it’s a debate worth having. The Alternative Vote, however, is a step backward rather than a step forward.
AV combines the weaknesses of both systems; it is less proportional than First Past the Post, and AV ensures that the BNP will gain more votes and more legitimacy, while not giving any help to small parties like the Green Party.
Before it became the principal financial and logistical backer of the Yes to AV campaign, the Electoral Reform Society (who were previously called the Proportional Representational Society) said of AV:
"AV is thus not a proportional system, and can in fact be more disproportional than FPTP... It does very little to improve the voice of traditionally under-represented groups in parliament, strengthening the dominance of the 'central' viewpoint."
This is the wrong referendum at the wrong time, and risks saddling the UK with a system that even the supporters of the Yes2AV Campaign don't want.
Nick Clegg has acknowledged that there won't be another change in the voting system in the foreseeable future, saying:
"you can't constantly ask people. Referendums have a fairly definitive feel to them...I wouldn't be expecting another one."