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Referendum Plus

This series takes us from the day when the date for the AV referendum was leaked to the press (July 2, 2010), through the No and Yes! campaigns with their bottom-up passion and energy, to the emergence of the Purple People, the frantic last weeks and the resounding No vote, and finally to the reflections - many bitter and frustrated - on the management and co-ordination of a lost chance for democratic reform. 

Arguably the AV referendum has killed British interest in electoral reform at least for a generation. It turned many more away from the pursuit of political reform via Westminster, accelerating an already current trend. The rejection, and the argument that the referendum terms already predicated defeat, forced the Liberal Democrats to examine their purpose and role as junior partners in the Coalition. With global perspectives, incisive analysis, historical overviews, striking personal testament and intimate reflection, the series takes the reader through the ups and downs of what was Britain's first chance since 1997 to significantly change the system by which the UK elects its representatives. 

See the short series Britain after 5 May for immediate reaction to the referendum vote. 


AV: a very unpopular movement for democratic reform?

Is the current campaign to overhaul the electoral system motored more by the needs of a disconnected elite than by popular demand?

Funny, but the Tories could be having second thoughts on AV

The Conservatives oppose changing the UK's election system to the Alternate Vote in the coming referendum. But now the prospect of losing becomes attractive as AV could give the Coalition five more years.

The Alternative Vote: Yes and No camps go head to head at NUS conference

An early clash between the 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns as the UK heads towards a referendum on changing its voting system.

Lord Leach mounts the case for No2AV

No2AV is up and running with a campaign website and an open letter from its chairman, Lord Leach, in which the Tory peer explains how our first past the post system is universally admired and solicits support. The No campaign is mounting its defence of the status quo with the bold, and somewhat counter-intuitive, claim that a "No vote will defend fair votes and is a call for real reform". Here OurKingdom publishes Lord Leach's letter in full.

Purple rally for fairer votes in Manchester

There will be a purple rally on Tuesday evening calling on Ed Miliband to back the campaign for fairer votes.

David Marquand discusses the post-election political terrain

Political thinker, historian and OurKingdom regular David Marquand discusses republicanism, the future of the left and the Labour party and the forthcoming referendum on AV.

Four reasons why Conservatives should back PR

What should be asked, loud and clear, is why are supposedly modern Conservatives defending the First Past the Post-system (FPTP) when it flies in the face of at least four core Tory values:

Greens back AV

The Labour case for AV

In an important new pamphlet, seeking to persuade his party of the need to fight for reform in the forthcoming referendum on AV, Neal Lawson, chair of Compass, sets out why democracy should matter to Labour. Lawson argues that empowering the collective voice of the people will help achieve Labour's aim of building the "good society", drawing on empirical evidence that proportional systems produce more equal outcomes. He argues for the superiority of AV over first past the post and that Labour should embrace the change, as a crucial step in the direction of PR, through an "active intervention" to ensure a Yes vote. Here, OurKingdom re-publishes the opening argument of the pamphlet, which you can read in full here.

"For the Sake of Simplicity": hypocrisy at the service of AV

It is one thing to offer the country a compromise, but the way Britain's Coalition government is going about reform is itself compromised as gruesomely displayed in the demoralising Commons debate on the AV referendum

The Twilight of the Westminster Model: Scotland, Europe and Referendums

The voodoo world of parliamentary sovereignty and Westminsterism is slowly and unceremoniously coming to an end in the UK.

Speeches from Parliament's electoral reform debate I

Yesterday's Second Reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies bill should have been a historic moment in many ways, but it was marred by serious and widely-shared concerns with the whole process, not least the absence of pre-legislative scrutiny.

What is behind Carswell's STV amendment?

Ahead of second reading of the AV referendum bill, Douglas Carswell MP has announced on his blog that he is planning to submit an amendment to offer voters a proportional option.

Caroline Lucas challenges Milibands to back a PR option

There is a very astute article in the New Statesman by Green party leader, Caroline Lucas, attacking the Labour party for its ingrained tribalism and calling on the leadership candidates to demonstrate their pluralist credentials.

First London-wide meeting of electoral reform groups

The first London-wide meeting of activists to fight for a "Yes" vote in the AV referendum took place yesterday evening in a crowded room in Bloomsbury.

To AV or not to AV?

Should we be having a referendum on AV or is it a dangerous and pointless distraction? Anthony Barnett, who hopes for a Yes vote, locks horns with Jerome di Constanzo, a French conservative of Burkean instincts.

Keep Parliament unrepresentative, say free marketeers

For most people the fact a particular voting system delivers an unpopular and unrepresentative politics would be an argument against it: for neoliberals it is an argument in favour.

The forces gathering for a "Yes" vote on AV

With the mood amongst sections of the Labour party turning hostile towards electoral reform, and the appointment of the combative Taxpayers' Alliance chief to lead the "No" camp, some people are already forecasting a defeat for AV in the referendum. This would be a mistake as a grassroots movement is emerging to fight the case for electoral reform.

The slow death of the "Westminster model"

Patrick Dunleavy has another fascinating post up on the LSE Politics and Policy blog in which he examines the future of the "Westminster model" in light of the recent Australian election which delivered a hung parliament in which neither Labour nor the Liberal-National coalition can form a majority.

Sleeping with the Enemy as the "No" campaign shapes up

The news that Matthew Elliot, the chief exec of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, is to head the “No” campaign in the AV referendum has been greeted with glee by Tory bloggers who have heaped praise and superlatives on his campaigning skills. For those on the left, who are considering joining the anti-reform faction, it’s perhaps worth pausing to consider whose interests they would be aligning themselves with.

Counter-intuitive tactical voting could favour the Lib Dems under AV

A myth about the Alternative Vote is that it eliminates the need for tactical voting. It doesn’t.

Britain may soon replace the House of Lords

Alongside the coming referendum on AV Britain has been promised an elected second chamber, reformers are warned to keep their eye on both.

Why the Referendum is a “Good Thing”

Continuing the OK Referendum Plus debate, the case for the AV referendum as a step towards replacing the 'sovereignty of parliament'

Why all MPs should support reforming the electoral system

The rise of multi-party politics in the UK has meant that very few MPs can now claim majority support in their constituency, adding to the public's sense of alienation from Parliament. Professor Patrick Dunleavy, of the LSE, argues that there is now an overwhelming case for adopting the Alternative Vote to restore to all MPs the support of a majority of the voters in their constituency.

Our Referendum Plus debate: team OK shares different views

OK's reviews editor sets out the nature of of our Referendum Plus debate

Counting the flaws - the US debates voting systems

A New Yorker editor blogs an American discussion of voting systems from 12th century Venice to tomorrow, which way will Britain face when it comes to choose?

The Extraordinary Realignment of the Centre Right

The three main front of the UK's new Coalition are the economy, liberty and trying to 'carry on as before'. The Jury is still out on the first, the second is welcome, and the third is hopeless, but then so too is the main opposition.


New Voting system linked to rise in hair cancer researchers claim

Bernard Jenkin MP should get his facts straight on the Alternative Vote

The Evening Standard ran an extraordinary piece on the Alternative Vote by Bernard Jenkin MP, one of the leading figures in the "No" Campaign. Since the Standard refused electoral reformers the right to reply to Jenkin's highly misleading piece, we are publishing a full rebuttal here by Peter Facey of Unlock Democracy.

Fairer Votes, not Fair Votes let alone Audio-Visual!

How should the 'Yes' campaign in the coming referendum pitch its case for 'AV'?

The AV referendum - four possible outcomes

With the Coalition government rushing forward while simultaneously seeking to preserve and contain, what matters is not just whether there is a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote in the AV referendum, but also the way in which the outcome comes about.

Posters to win the AV referendum - the best so far

We've had a fantastic response to our call for poster ideas to fight the "Yes" campaign on AV - good designs, along with some clever slogans that put Tom Harris's hypocritical effort for the "Noes" in the shade.
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