Column for Ilford Recorder

Congratulations to all those involved in the fight to defend  Goodmayes  Library. I am delighted  our campaign led to a U turn by the Conservative/ LibDem  leadership of Redbridge Council so it is now safe until 2013. Broad based united campaigns clearly make a difference. Nationally too there was a similar climb down as Conservative Environment Secretary  Caroline Spelman was forced  into a hurried withdrawal of plans to sell off our national forests.But unfortunately despite heroic efforts Labour, Cross bench and some Tory peers were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to amend the Electoral Reform and Constituencies Bill. As a result there will now be a big upheaval of Parliamentary boundaries before every election starting in 2013.  Every constituency except the Isle of Wight and two constituencies in Scotland will be changed to have about 76,000 voters. I had an electorate of 88,000 in 2010, the fifth largest constituency in the country. But it is not yet clear where the new boundaries will be drawn for 2015 and even  if we will still have a constituency called Ilford South. There will a be a Referendum on May 5th on a new electoral system. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats forced through the legislation but their leaders are on different sides. Along with Labour leader Ed Miliband I will be voting yes to the alternative vote reform. Like First Past The Post it is a constituency based system which keeps the link of an MP with a local community. There will continue to be only one category of MP and no proportional representation list. But voters will be able to vote 1,2,3  for their actual preference. This will reduce the danger of voters being deceived by inaccurate leaflets from small third placed parties asking voters to cast a negative “tactical vote” to keep another party out. I believe AV is an improvement which encourages positive votes.

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