Cameron attacks alternative vote plan

David Cameron launched a fresh broadside against reform of the voting system today, insisting the proposed Alternative Vote (AV) system was unfair, undemocratic and obscure.

In a campaign speech before the May 5 referendum, the Prime Minister cited Winston Churchill's view that AV meant "the most worthless votes go to the most worthless candidates".



His remarks came as the Electoral Commission launched an awareness campaign about the referendum because of fears of a particularly low turnout.



An animated video explaining the differences between the current first-past-the-post voting system and AV was being spread on the internet today.



Leaflets addressing not only the referendum but also local and devolved assembly elections will be sent to every household in the UK next week.



The mailshot coincides with a major advertising campaign on television, radio and the internet.



Speaking in Swansea, the Prime Minister acknowledged that many people felt the referendum to be "a bit of a sideshow" but insisted it was "hugely important to our country".



Reminding Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of his pre-election description of AV as "a miserable little compromise", Mr Cameron said he "couldn't agree more".



He said: "It is a system so undemocratic that your vote for a mainstream party counts once, while someone can support a fringe party like the BNP and get their vote counted several times," he said.



"It's a system so obscure that it is only used by three countries in the whole world: Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Our system is used by half of the world.



"And it's a system so unfair that the candidates that come second or third can end up winning.



"Think forward to the Olympics: Usain Bolt powers home in the 100m, when it comes to handing out the gold medal they give it to the person who came third. We wouldn't do it in the Olympics, we shouldn't do it in politics. We've got to vote no to this crazy system."



The Prime Minister invoked wartime leader Mr Churchill's criticism of the AV system, in which electors cast their votes in order of preference and candidates are eliminated until one has the support of 50% of voters.



"He said this about AV: the most worthless votes go to the most worthless candidates," Mr Cameron said.



"Thank you Winston, I couldn't have put it better myself."

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