AV system 'insult to the electorate'

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Indy Politics

A top Tory today launched a furious attack on the proposed referendum on Alternative Voting and denounced the system as "unsatisfactory, un-British, and causing frustration and anger".

Edward Leigh, former chairman of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, said it was insulting to the electorate to force this "confusing" system on them.

Mr Leigh's outburst will displease the party leadership as the Conservatives gather in Birmingham for their first annual conference since the General Election.

Writing in the Parliamentary House Magazine, Mr Leigh said the particular type of AV to be proposed in the referendum was in use only in Papua New Guinea.

"This system is rare for the good reasons that it is complex, eccentric, does not reduce the chances of hung parliaments and leaves the minority parties completely unrepresented.

"In short it is neither fairer nor more proportional than the system we already have."

Mr Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, went on: "Don't let us wallow in a quagmire of half-measures: it is unsatisfactory, un-British and causes frustration and anger."

He pointed out that this "AV compromise" was not in the election manifestos of either of the coalition parties.

And he objected to the plan to hold the referendum on the same day as the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh elections, a manoeuvre which, he said, would concern voters in England.

"A referendum should be held when conditions are consistent across the nation. I understand that a coincidence of dates will save us nearly £8 million, but let's not sell our political principles for the price of a nice house in Chelsea," he added.