Don Foster MP


Fairer votes referendum to change politics for good

April 18, 2023 by admin in News

On 5 May 2010, the British people will for the first time in history have a say over how they elect their Member of Parliament. The referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) has united the Liberal Democrats, Labour, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and UKIP to campaign for a “yes” vote on 5 May 2023

In an AV debate organised by the University of Bath Debating Society, Don Foster, MP for Bath and Bristol University student, Megan Stodel, scored a victory for the ‘Yes’ vote as the pair went head to head with Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and ‘No’ campaigner Don Collier on Thursday 14th April. In a post debate poll, ‘Yes’ supporters were in the large majority as the strong ‘Yes’ argument hit home with the audience.

AV allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference and requires every MP to have secured the support of at least half of their constituents. It is a small change which will make a big difference to politics and mending our broken electoral system: it gives voters a stronger voice, it will make MPs work harder and will end safe seats for life.

Commenting, Don Foster, MP for Bath stated:

“Our electoral system is broken: MPs have seats for life and millions of votes are ignored. Most of the country has an MP that they didn’t vote for.

“AV will end the travesty of MPs getting elected with less than a third of the vote backing them.

“Under AV, MPs will have to work harder to get elected. They will need to reach out beyond their core support because they need 50% of the vote.

“AV will make our system fairer and is our chance to mend our broken system, to change politics for good.”

Commenting further, Chair of the Liberal Democrat Yes to Fairer Votes Campaign and Party President, Tim Farron said:

“For too long, our system has ignored large sections of the population. More than a third of people voted for a party other than Labour and the Conservatives in May 2010 yet these people are represented by less than a sixth of MPs.

“The Alternative Vote is an evolution, not a revolution. It keeps the best of the current system, the constituency MP but improves it by requiring that an MP gets 50% of the vote.

“No longer will our elections be decided by a small number of voters in marginal seats.

“We need to seize the chance to change the way we do politics once and for all because if we don’t, it’s business as usual, jobs for life, politicians who are immune from the views of their constituents and the opportunity for reform will be lost for a generation.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. At the last General Election, 65.1% of people voted for one of the two main parties but Labour and the Conservatives got 86.8% of the seats in the House of Commons.
  1. There are nine constituencies where the winner had less than a third of the vote in May 2010 (Norwich South, Brighton Pavilion, Argyll & Bute, Oldham East & Saddleworth, Great Grimsby, Hampstead & Kilburn, Birmingham Hall Green, Derby North and Ynys Mon). Another 97 MPs have fewer than 4 in 10 of their constituents backing them.
  1. Only 170 seats out of 633 in England, Wales and Scotland were classed as marginal, where voters actually had a real say in things. 268 constituencies were classed as ultra safe going into the 2010 General Elections, with incumbent majorities of over 20%.
  1. On average, turn-out in marginal seats is up to six per cent higher than in the safest seats because voters in safe seats know their vote does not really matter. The five with the lowest turnout (more than 15 percentage points below the national turnout of 65%) were in constituencies which had majorities of more than 20% in 2005:
  1. Manchester Central (Turnout: 44.3%, Majority in ’05: 33.4%),
  2. Hull West and Hessle (T: 45.6%, M: 34%),
  3. Birmingham Ladywood (T: 48.7%, M: 20.5%),
  4. Glasgow North East (T: 49.1%, M: 35.7% in ’05 - 39.4% in ’09 byelection),
  5. Blackley & Broughton, (T: 49.2%, M: 43.6%)
  1. 90 constituencies haven’t changed hands to a different party since the 1950s. Of those 90, 53 constituencies have never changed hands to a different party since the Second World War. Of these 53 constituencies, 46 have never changed hands since before then, some going as far back as the 1874 and the 1885 elections (Windsor and Bury St Edmunds as well as Dorset West respectively).