Letter from the editor: Presenting the issues

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The Independent Online

It may have escaped your notice, what with wars, nuclear leaks and strife in the streets to worry about, but yesterday saw the formal launch of the campaign to say yes to a reform of our voting system.

The referendum takes place on 5 May, and the result may presage the biggest upheaval in the way we vote since the current, first-past-the-post system was introduced in 1265.

So why is it so difficult to get people interested in the subject? It’s true: voting reform is not something calculated to get people marching down Piccadilly. (“What do we want? Alternative Vote!” just doesn’t have the right ring about it.)

And, given that we already have a coalition government (which more accurately represents the way people voted than most previous elections), it stands to reason that there isn’t the same amount of anger around voting reform that there was in, say, 2005 when Labour won a sizeable majority on a 22 per cent share of the electorate. But even if it does not excite you, it is important, and between now and voting day, i will present the issues in a clear and impartial way and, of course, not seek to tell you where to put your cross.

In the meantime, today’s final word goes to i reader Valerie Passmore. When I saw the subject box in her email — “Sexism” — I thought it might be trouble. “In addition to the picture of a scantily-clad male suggested by another offended reader,” she writes “I look forward to the editor referring to one of his male staff as ‘delightful’.” As I write this column, opposite the handsome, bronzed features of the deputy editor, having just conferred with our rugged sports editor, I really don’t know what she means. Sexist? I don’t think so. Anyway, Valerie, don’t worry your pretty little head about it. (Only joking!)