AV voting referendum: Katie Ghose's viewpoint

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Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign
Image caption,
Katie Ghose says the current system is broken and change is needed

A referendum will be held on 5 May on whether to keep the first-past-the-post system for electing MPs or to switch to the alternative vote (AV). The BBC is asking a variety of people to give their view.

"The alternative vote is a small change that will make a big difference - making MPs work harder to get and stay elected, and giving you more of a say.

No wonder the old political establishment will say anything to cling on to the old rules.

They will say anything to defend a broken system that can let them win power with just one in three voters on their side.

A system that has let them enjoy jobs for life in safe seats. A system that has bred the complacency we all saw in the expenses scandal.

The last general election was decided by fewer than 450,000 voters in marginal seats.

Two thirds of our MPs don't have the majority of voters on their side - so most of us are now represented by MPs that most of us didn't vote for.

It is not right, and in this referendum you can change the rules.

AV takes what works with our current system and improves on it - making MPs work harder to win and keep their jobs.

A 'Yes' vote means all the candidates who want to be your next MP will have to aim for 50% support in the communities they seek to represent. MPs will have to work harder to win - and keep - your support, reaching out to voters they can no longer afford to ignore.

A 'Yes' vote will give you more say. AV lets you can rank candidates and show support for anyone you feel is up to the job. So if your favourite candidate doesn't win, you can still help decide your next MP.

Good news for the millions of us forced into tactical voting.

Bad news for extremists, like the BNP, because candidates who will not reach out have no future.

AV is not revolutionary. It is a small, sensible step that builds on the current system, preserving and strengthening the link between MPs and their voters.

This referendum is a straight choice between a broken system and a better alternative.

Say Yes to AV."

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