West Yorkshire MPs split over new voting shake-up plans

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LABOUR MPs in West Yorkshire are split over whether to sweep away the existing electoral system and replace it with the Alternative Vote.

Three of the region’s Labour Parliamentarians disagree with their leader Ed Miliband and are set to vote “No” against changing the voting system.

Rachel Reeves (Leeds West), George Mudie (Leeds East) and Mary Creagh (Wakefield) have all made it clear they do not believe the existing first-past-the-post system should be replaced with AV.

Mr Mudie said he was backing the “great British tradition” of first past the post – where the winning candidate is simply the one with the highest number of votes.

He added: “I have been 50 years in politics and every so often someone suggests changing the voting system, usually for party reasons on the basis they would never get in any other way.

“It always proves to be false.”

The public will be asked whether AV should be used in future general elections.

Under AV, voters rank the candidates on the ballot paper by preference.

Eliminated

If no candidate gets more than half of the first preference votes, the bottom candidate is eliminated and his or her second preference votes are redistributed.

This process is repeated until someone gets over 50 per cent.

Two Leeds Labour MPs – Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) and Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East) – are backing the “Yes” campaign.

Mr Hamilton said: “I have always been a supporter of a fairer voting system and AV is fairer but also keeps MPs’ constituencies. AV is a good compromise.”

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper backs AV but is likely to focus her campaigning in May on the local elections and not the referendum on voting.

Morley MP and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has not made his view known, although he last year suggested that he would not campaign for AV.

The region’s Tory MPs will all vote against changing the electoral system but Liberal Democrat Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said AV would be a “real improvement” .

mark.hookham@ypn.co.uk

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