Campaigners challenge Clegg to attend voting changes meeting

OPPONENTS of changes to the British voting system are holding the first of a series of public debates on the issue in Sheffield.

Campaign group No to AV is planning the event for Thursday at a time and location to be fixed.

The city has been chosen for the inaugural debate because Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is the leading cheerleader for introducing the Alternative Vote system for General Elections.

Currently, the winning candidate is simply the person with the most votes. Under AV, people are asked to list candidates in order of preference. Where the candidate with the most "first choice" votes does not get 50 per cent of support, second choices are counted and, if a candidate still does not have a majority of votes, third choices are totted up to determine a winner. Candidates with only a small amount of support are ruled out between stages.

The system, used for elected mayors, can mean the winning candidate is not the one with the most first choice votes, such as controversial Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies.

NO to AV believes the existing "first past the post" system is better because it creates "strong governments", is fair and easy to understand - and makes it unlikely extremist candidates could get a seat in Parliament.

Matthew Elliott, Campaign Director of NO to AV, said: "Nick Clegg has personally staked his reputation and the future of the Liberal Democrats on winning his Alternative Vote referendum. The past few weeks have seen he and Ed Miliband cautiously talking about appearing together to defend AV.

"Here's their chance - both Mr Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband are welcome to appear at our first debate in Sheffield and explain why they think bringing in a more unfair, complicated and expensive voting system would be good for Britain."

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