Letter: Push back the boundaries of debate on voting reform

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Sir: Andrew Marr, in his piece on electoral systems, omits mention of the variation on the list system called the Additional Member System (AMS), reported to have been favoured by Lord Plant's Labour electoral reform commission.

Under AMS the majority of members are elected as now, first-past-the- post in single-member constituencies. The Additional Members are found by aggregating each party's vote in a small number of regions formed by lumping constituencies together, and selecting additional members from the runners-up in the constituencies to produce a Parliamentary membership roughly reflecting the total party vote in the region.

Some advantages:

1. Complicated to describe, simple to operate: the voter, as now, puts one cross, and when all the votes in the region are in, the computer produces the names of the AMs within minutes.

2. The important member-constituency link is maintained for the majority of members, but in addition there is a regional representation, which should please the Liberal Democrats.

3. Representation is not quite so precisely proportional as under STV, but will get close to it - much more than under the Alternative Vote.

4. Every member will have commanded a substantial number of votes and none will have come off a central list selected by party hacks.

5. In cast-iron Conservative or Labour seats, electors can safely choose to vote for someone who seems to be a particularly good candidate, but is not of their party, but may get elected.

P A Reynolds

(former Vice-Chancellor,

Lancaster University)


East Sussex