Rival sides ready for UK voting referendum (FWD)

DEMOREP1 at aol.com DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Thu Oct 29 15:57:15 PST 1998

The defenders of indirect minority rule (i.e. the FPTP system-a plurality of
the votes in a bare majority of the districts for control) are tyrants.
Rival sides ready for UK voting referendum

LONDON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The likely protagonists in a referendum on
reforming Britain's voting system rushed to state their positions on Thursday
after publication of a report by a government-appointed committee. 

The report called for a system which would give greater House of Commons
representation to smaller parties such as the Liberal Democrats and make it
more difficult for larger ones to win an overall majority in parliament,
making coalition government more likely. 

The recommendation of the committee, chaired by former finance minister Lord
Roy Jenkins, will be pitted against the current first past the post system in
a plebiscite which has been promised by Prime Minister Tony Blair. 

The umbrella organisation that will campaign for a vote for change, Make Votes
Count, is backed by senior business figures such as Northern Foods (NFDS.L)
chairman Lord Christopher Haskins, Sir Peter Parker and Sir Adrian Cadbury. 

``Britain is a divided nation,'' said the organisation's chairwoman, Labour
member of parliament (MP) Oona King. 

``Many people, particularly young people and those from ethnic communities,
feel shut out from the political system...Voting reform is now essential to
reconnect voters with their elected representatives.'' 

King was speaking at a news conference also addressed by Liberal Democrat MP
Charles Kennedy and the Scottish Nationalists' Margaret Ewing. 

The Electoral Reform Society, which has long campaigned for the Single
Transferable Vote system used in the Irish Republic, said the Jenkins proposal
was a step in the right direction. 

The Charter 88 campaign for the reform of Britain's constitution, welcoming
the move, said the new system could ``offer us a new political culture.'' 

But ranged against these organisations will be a formidable coalition of
almost the entire Conservative Party and more than 100 Labour MPs along with
their supporters in the country. 

``When the people of Britain look at what is being proposed, they will want to
reject it as much as I do,'' said Conservative Party Chairman Michael Ancram. 

``The proposals will...lead to unstable government, add volatility to the
electoral system and confuse the electorate,'' said Stuart Bell, leader of the
Labour group opposed to change. 

The parliamentary forces on either side will have a further opportunity to
develop their arguments when parliament debates Jenkins' report next Thursday.

12:58 10-29-98

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