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 the object of universal admiration. 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:
Next year’s AV referendum
I am writing to ask you for your help with the No campaign in next year’s referendum on the ‘Alternative Vote’ electoral system. NO2AV is being set up as a non-party and cross-party coalition of those who believe that our current electoral system provides a sounder and fairer platform for general elections than AV would.
Our aim is to win a resounding victory in the referendum. Setting up an effective organisation that rises above party lines and reaches 45 million voters in just over seven months is a challenge, but we are planning for the referendum being on 5th May and are confident we can win whatever the date Parliament decides.
We already have a strong team in place, led by Matthew Elliott, who has a proven track record as one of the most successful grassroots campaigners in the UK today. He is standing down from his current positions in October to manage NO2AV on a full time basis.
As the campaign gathers pace, we hope you will work with us in your local constituencies, your local media and on the national stage to help us deliver a convincing result. In many respects, other issues pale into insignificance compared to this battle over the basis on which future elections to the House of Commons will be fought.
Many parliaments across the world are modelled on the House of Commons. Our democratic electoral system is aspired to, envied and copied everywhere. In contrast, AV is used by just 3 out of 191 countries, one of which, Fiji, is in the process of dropping it.
Under AV, the great majority of voters (i.e. those who vote for either of the leading two candidates in a constituency) get only one vote, while those who back minority or fringe parties get several. While AV would tend to bring about more frequent indecisive elections than first-past-the-post, it can sometimes yield unfairly disproportional results, as Blair’s Commission on Electoral Reform, headed by Roy Jenkins, found. These are just some of the reasons why we should keep the tried and trusted system under which our elections are now conducted, which has served the country well through two World Wars, the 1930s Depression and 60 years of post-war normality and relative prosperity.
The campaign is putting together packs which local party organisations, union branches and others can use to help us. If you would like to know more about how you can play a part, members of the team would be delighted to meet you whenever you want.
With best regards,
Lord Leach of Fairford