This May a referendum will likely be held on reforming the current voting system used in the UK, First Past the Post. This will be the first time in British history that voters will have been given a say on the system they use to elect their MPs, it presents a historic opportunity to modernise our voting system to keep pace with 21st century Britain.
Under the Alternative Vote instead of simply placing an X next to one candidate voters will, if they wish, be able to rank candidates according to their preferences: 1, 2, 3.
Our voting system was designed for a 19th century, Victorian society. Modernising our electoral system would have several important benefits:
1. MPs would need to get 50% of the support of their constituents. This means they would have to work harder and reach out further to communities beyond their core supporters.
2. MPs would have to be sensitive to the views of all those in their constituencies so they would be pressured not to campaign irresponsibly on issues like immigration and religious tension as done so by Phil Woolas
3. The British National Party are campaigning for people to vote NO because they understand that AV would stop them ever getting elected to parliament. Racist candidates cannot expect to win the support of 50% of constituents, AV would stop them sneaking in the back door with only 30% of the vote as has happened in dozens of council seats. Operation Black Vote are campaigning for a Yes vote too.
About the Campaign
The Yes to Fairer Votes campaign is a civil society initiative supported by over 30 not for profit organisations and people from all parties and none.It is campaigning for people to vote Yes to introduce the Alternative Vote. The Yes campaign is a major civil society alliance of which the Muslim Council of Britain should be a part. Some in the Muslim community do not feel ownership of the democratic process. By actively campaigning for a Yes vote, deciding how democracy will work, those feelings of ownership can be developed. No longer will British democracy be a set system - "take it or leave it" - but something British Muslims have themselves been a part of creating.
Ultimately the MCB exists to promote peaceful integration and the common good. The adoption of an electoral support where the winning candidates will be those who have built broad coalitions of support for their agenda, are non racist, hard working and highly accountable, is clearly in keeping with these aims.