OK, here’s where, as a former councillor, I’m obliged almost by autopilot to declare an interest. At the last general election I lost the Morley and Outwood seat by 1,101 votes, or around 2%. My Labour opponent, the now shadow chancellor Ed Balls, squeaked in but suffered the worst result of any incumbent Labour MP against a Tory challenger in the entire country.
Over the last few months there have been many reasons to vote for or against AV. To be honest I have been quite disappointed and, at times, fairly shocked by some of the themes brought out by the No2AV campaign. I remain convinced, however, that the primary argument wheeled out by the ‘Yes’ campaign for changing the voting system (being that it produces ‘fairer votes’) is dangerously flawed.
Under AV it is entirely likely that the second preference UKIP votes (1,500 or so) and Lib Dem supporters (8,000+) would have broken decisively for the Conservatives. Balls was as divisive a politician in Morley and Outwood last year as he is irritating to the Prime Minister today. Even the BNP voters in the constituency, who typically came from the tough south Morley council estates, were antagonistic towards the former Schools Secretary during the campaign - sentiments aptly demonstrated at the Independent’s televised hustings debate in the centre of Morley.