The nation must support David Cameron on AV, not Nick Clegg
The full text of the letter:
Dear Sir,Of course, if this reform passes, it is unlikely that the Conservative Party will ever again form a government: we will have perpetual coalition, with the Liberal Democrats forever cast as king-makers. Jonathan Isaby referred to this development as the 'Europeanisation' of British politics. He noted:
Our nation’s history is deeply rooted in our parliamentary democracy, a democracy in which, over centuries, men and women have fought for the right to vote.
That long fight for suffrage established the principle of one man or woman, one vote. The principle that each person’s vote is equal, regardless of wealth, gender, race, or creed, is a principle to which generations of reformers have dedicated their lives. It is a principle upon which reform of our parliamentary democracy still stands.
The referendum on 5th May which threatens to introduce a system of ‘Alternative Voting’ – a voting system which will allow MPs to be elected to Parliament even if they do not win the majority of constituents’ first preference votes – also threatens to break this principle.
For the first time since 1928 and the granting of universal suffrage, we face the possibility that one person’s casting ballot will be given greater weight than another. For the first time in centuries, we face the unfair idea that one citizen’s vote might be worth six times that of another. It will be a tragic consequence if those votes belong to supporters of extremist and non-serious parties.
Twice in our past, the nation has rejected any threat to the principle of one citizen, one vote. The last time, in 1931, Winston Churchill stood against the introduction of an Alternative Vote system. As he argued, AV would mean that elections would be determined by “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”. He understood that it was simply too great a risk to take.
The cause of reform, so long fought for, cannot afford to have the fundamentally fair and historic principle of majority voting cast aside; nor should we sacrifice the principle which generations of men and women have sought: that each being equal, every member of our society should cast an equal vote.
For these reasons, we urge the British people to vote “No” on May 5th.
Professor David Abulafia
Dr. John Adamson
Professor Antony Beevor
Professor Jeremy Black
Professor Michael Burleigh
Professor John Charmley
Professor Jonathan Clark
Dr Robert Crowcroft
Professor Richard J Evans
Professor Niall Ferguson
Dr. Amanda Foreman
Dr. John Guy
Dr. Sheila Lawlor
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Professor Lord Norton of Louth
Dr. Richard Rex
Dr. Andrew Roberts
Professor Richard Shannon
Chris Skidmore MP
Dr David Starkey
Professor Norman Stone
The fact is that AV would mean that most general elections would result in hung parliaments, which take power away from voters and deliver it into the hands of politicians, who then proceed to negotiate deals behind closed doors, resulting in a government and a programme for which not a single person voted.According to LibDem Chris Huhne, this is great, because it makes us so much more European in our politics:
"We are becoming more like every other European democracy. In every other European democracy it is absolutely normal that you have a period after an election result where there is no clear overall majority: you have a period where people attempt to see whether they can reach a common understanding on a programme for government, they come together, the programme for government is signed and sealed... and at the end of the parliament, which is often a fixed term parliament, they part again, they park the achievements which they've made during the period of coalition government and they argue for different visions about the future in the next parliament. And I think that's exactly what's going to happen here."There is now no greater task before us than to oppose AV at every turn and contend against the 'new style of politics' and perpetual hung parliaments. An eternal Labour-LibDem coalition would be a purgatory beyond imagination.