Campaigning in Camden for a YES! vote in the May 5th referendum


The story of Camden’s Co-chair, Sarah Allan

I’m not a member of any political party and have never campaigned for one. And yet I’ve got so involved in the Yes! to Fairer Votes campaign that I’m Co-Chair of Camden’s branch. Why?

It started in 2001 when I was in my final year in sixth form and my friends were old enough to vote for the first time. Having grown up in a family where everyone voted, it was strange for me that many of my friends weren’t going to participate.  I asked them why and their reasons were various. They didn’t feel they knew enough about it, they didn’t feel it affected them, they didn’t think their vote would make a difference.

And then it hit me. I’d barely seen an election leaflet. I definitely hadn’t seen any election activity. I had no idea who the local candidates were. Any why? Because my friends and I lived in one of the safest seats in the country. No one cared about whether or how we voted, or what we thought, because it simply didn’t matter.

By the time of the last general election, I’d moved to a new area. But I still couldn’t get my voice heard. True the contest was closer, but between two parties I didn’t particularly like. I ended up voting tactically rather than for the party I really supported.

And it’s not just me (and my friends).  The majority of people in the UK don’t get their views heard at election time.

That’s not just unfair; it means that thousands, indeed millions of people across the UK can be ignored. Policies don’t have to reflect your concerns and no one faces the consequences if they don’t (except you). In Camden, if you live in Holborn and St Pancras and aren’t a Labour voter, you can be ignored. If you live in Hampstead and Kilburn you might well have voted tactically in the last general election as you tried to second guess who would win. And if you’re lucky enough to have your views heard now, what happens if you move? And what about everyone else?

This isn’t a sensible way to run politics or indeed the country.

If you choose AV, everyone (including you) will be able to vote for who they really believe in. And more ordinary people will have their voices heard. Please vote ‘Yes!’ on May 5th.

By the time of the last general election, I’d moved to a new area. But I still couldn’t get my voice heard. True the contest was closer, but between two parties I didn’t particularly like. I ended up voting tactically rather than for the party I really supported.

Secret ballots and votes for women were once considered dangerous ideas…

I could not agree more with Green Party spokesman Darren Johnson who said last week that the secret ballot and votes for women were once considered dangerous ideas tampering with a ‘tried and tested system’.

I am not a Green Party member, but I agree with him that the choice on the ballot paper when we go to vote in the May referendum is between change and politics as usual. The reactionary forces campaigning against the Alternative Vote are trying to convince people that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ when it is plain to see that the system is clapped out and needs a repair job.

Fewer and fewer people are bothering to vote – the fact that half of all MPs’ seats haven’t changed hands in over 40 years must have something to do with it. Voting for AV will mean keeping them on their toes.

Kirsten de Keyser

Camden’s contribution to the national debate Ed Miliband, has made a compelling case for voting Yes!

How refreshing it was to hear local resident Ed Miliband saying that reforming the way we elect our MPs would “make politicians’ lives more difficult, but we should welcome that”.

Miliband, Camden’s contribution to the national political debate, made a compelling case for voting yes in the referendum on the 5th May to change “politics as usual” because it would force candidates to listen to more people. The Alternative Vote would mean that to win and hold on to their seats, politicians would have to win 50% of the votes.

To do that, they would have to listen to everybody, including those who usually vote for other parties, to try to secure their second preference votes.

Politicians who fail to listen to the voices of different people in their areas and who only have narrow appeal can win under First Past the Post, and that is alright for them – but not for us.

Martin Lake

We need to refresh and revive our democratic process – Cllr Maya de Souza’s personal story

Cllr Maya de Souza

Cllr Maya de Souza, Green Party

I’m supporting the campaign for AV because we need a fairer voting system – we need a system that allows people to state their real preference. Many voters now tell me they’d like to vote Green, but feel like they have to vote for someone else, just to make sure another party doesn’t get in. That’s not what democracy is all about.

At the moment also, many people feel their vote is wasted. They know they live in a “safe” seat for a party that they really don’t like, but there’s nothing they can doabout this. That breeds disillusionment and cynicism.

We need to get beyond this, to refresh and revive our democratic process.

In time, with AV we can expect the fresh voices that we so much need in British politics.

Sarah Ludford MEP joins the Belsize Park street stall

The national press turned out in force on Saturday 2nd April to see Eddie Izzard, Kriss Akabusi, and Martin Bell speak at the big launch of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, but the Camden group were still out campaigning on the streets, and this week we were lucky enough to be joined by member of the European Parliament for London and former Islington councillor, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP.

Sarah joined us for our regular Saturday street stall, this week held on Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park. Support for a fairer voting system is continuing to grow and we are getting a great response from the people of Camden. Next week on Saturday 9th our street stall will be on Finchley Road, but we have other activities planned – for updates on the Camden group’s campaign join our mailing list by emailing .

An Australian in Camden – AV is superior to First Past the Post

Yes to AV West Hampstead

Yes to AV Street Stall

I believe the AV system, which is used to vote representatives in the Australian federal parliament is a superior system to first past the post.

AV tends to make voters more politically engaged and have more say over which politicians they elect, something especially important in safe seats such as the Camden area.  The Australian AV voting system does not suffer from hung parliaments as a result.  In fact, the British parliament is currently hung under FPTP system.
AV will give a fairer more proportional representation than the current FPTP system, and will give voters more say and make them feel more engaged with the political system.  Local members must respond to the wishes of their electorate, and AV tends to encourage people to vote how they truly feel.  These can only be positive changes for Britain.
Thanks to Adam, the Australian in Camden, who offered us his support at one of our weekly street stalls and gave us this contribution

Camden Yes to Fairer Votes campaign calls for local debates

Camden’s Yes 2 AV campaign is calling for local debates in Camden to give people the chance to hear the arguments to help make up their minds in the run-up to the first national referendum since 1975.

Sarah Allan and Lee Baker, Co-chairs of the Camden campaign, which brings together local people of all parties and none working for a Yes vote on May 5, said: “This would be the biggest change to the way we elect MPs since all women got the vote in 1928. People are now focusing on the referendum, and many want to know more.

“Although the alternative vote is as simple as 1-2-3, some of the arguments raging about voting systems can appear quite complex, and a public debate would give those who want to know more the chance to hear and test the arguments on both sides.  Camden has a large number of politically aware residents, and a good tradition in recent years of well attended election debates. We believe there is strong interest in a debate on the AV referendum.”
“We hope that the local No campaign will be willing to debate and are very happy to work directly with them to get this organised and find a suitable neutral chair. We are also talking to non-partisan local bodies, such as churches and the local press, to see if we can get at least one local debate organised.
“Of course, speakers from Camden Yes to AV are more than willing to go along to any local groups who want to hear a bit more about the case for fairer votes”.

Yes2AV Camden

Let's hear the arguments for why change is needed - and hear from others on what is good about the status quo!

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