Friday 18 February 2011
AV will get rid of Coleman
On 5th May, a referendum is being held to decide whether to change the voting system for electing MPs to Westminster. The proposal is to decide between the ‘first past the post’ (FPTP) and the alternative vote (AV) systems. Nick Clegg supports AV and that in itself is a good reason to vote against it.
However, if the GLA elections were conducted using the AV system, it is highly likely that Brian Coleman would be defeated.
In 2008, Coleman was elected with a thumping majority of nearly 20,000. But he did so with only 41% of the vote. In other words, almost six out of ten voters did not want him as their representative.
Under the AV system, the votes of the smaller parties would have been redistributed amongst the other candidates until someone passed the 50% barrier. We cannot say for certain which candidate would have picked up the bulk of the second preference votes, but it is highly improbable that they would have gone to Coleman. Voters tend to fall into two camps - Conservative or Anyone but Conservative.
Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the GLA elections next year will be held on a combination of the traditional FPTP system for some seats and PR for the balance. Coleman is standing for a constituency which elects its representative on the FPTP system.
Therefore, if the opposition wish to defeat him, they need to have a coherent strategy to avoid splitting their vote. There is no point in the LibDems even putting up a candidate - they are finished as an electoral force whilst Nick Clegg remains in charge. Andrew Dismore is hoping to stand for Labour. He rather blotted his copy book with his petulant outburst when he lost to Manuel Offord in Hendon at the General Election. Don’t Call Me Dave thinks that Mr Reasonable would make an excellent independent candidate but he is probably not well known enough in Camden, which makes up half of the constituency (sorry Mr R).
This is a unique opportunity. The coalition Government is trailing in the polls, Barnet Council is a laughing stock and Brian Coleman is widely despised, even within his own party. Nonetheless, overturning a 20,000 majority will not be easy - but it is not impossible if the opposition gets its act together. Unfortunately for democracy, the Labour opposition in Barnet are an utter shambles, incapable of organising the proverbial in a brewery. That will remain the case for as long as the very pleasant, but completely ineffectual, Alison Moore remains their leader.