Angie Bray's March Newsletter
Welcome to the latest edition of my eNewsletter. The world has been watching tumultuous events unfold across the Middle East and North Africa. It is not clear how things will end up at this stage, although it is an amazing sight to see unarmed people risking their lives to confront heavily armed police and military forces in their quest to unseat the long-standing dictatorships in their countries. Nobody can remain unmoved by their courage and determination. We have, in Ealing and Acton, a community drawn from a number of these nations and our thoughts are with them as they watch events unfold and worry about their friends and families who are still living in these countries in uncertain circumstances. We all hope and pray that the end result will be a fairer, kinder democratic future after the despots have been kicked out.
"Back home we are all awaiting the crucially important Budget, which the Chancellor will deliver later this month. 2011 is already proving to be a choppy ride as the economy is slowly dragged back to health from the worst financial deficit since the second world war. Figures and statistics continue to paint a mixed picture: a poor quarter at the end of last year, partly made worse by the unexpectedly difficult weather but hints of a better performance for January. It is worth remembering that this is the typical behaviour of an economy coming, however slowly, out of recession - it is always up and down before finally establishing a trend towards real growth. In the meantime we must stick to our decision to curb the massive deficit as soon as we can so that we can start, once again, investing in our schools, hospitals and other important services, rather than paying massive interest on the debt left by the last Labour government.
"Finally, it is important to note an important date with destiny on Thursday, 5th May. On that day we are all asked to vote in a referendum on the way we want to vote in future General Elections. The Coalition Agreement has given the LibDems the opportunity to test public opinion in a referendum on whether or not we want to change our voting system. Nick Clegg and his LibDem colleagues want to introduce a new Alternative Vote (AV) system in which voters would have to rank all the candidates on the ballot paper in order of preference. No candidate would win without achieving at least 50% plus one of the vote. If they fail to do so on first votes, then the candidate with the least votes would drop out and their second preference votes would be allocated accordingly to the remaining candidates. This process would be repeated until one candidate gets beyond 50%.
"It all sounds very democratic until the details are considered: the actual effect is to elect the candidate least disliked by most people rather than the candidate most liked by the biggest number of people. It also tends to weigh against candidates with robust views and to elect, instead, candidates who are never prepared to stick their necks out. AV would also tend to produce hung parliaments with no strong sense of a firm course of action. Coalition government is sometimes a necessity, as indeed it proved at the last election when two parties came together to tackle a particular problem - the financial deficit. But already, even with this Coalition, there are many voters complaining that they are not getting what they voted for or they are getting policies they did not vote for - but that is the nature of a coalition government where the two parties have to compromise on their manifesto promises.
"I say stick with what we have got - a system called First Past the Post that allows voters simply to vote for the candidate they most want and ensures that the candidate that the biggest number of people want is elected. It makes it easier to vote a party with the most appealing manifesto into Government and it also makes it easier to kick a useless government out. It may not be perfect, but it is straightforward!"
Angie Bray MP
To read Angie's eNewsletter in full please click here.
01 March 2011