Parties join forces to oppose reform

NO CHANGE ... Tory Coun Jeff Milburn, front left, is against reform of the electoral system, as is South Tyneside Council's Labour leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, front right.
NO CHANGE ... Tory Coun Jeff Milburn, front left, is against reform of the electoral system, as is South Tyneside Council's Labour leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, front right.

LABOUR and Conservatives in South Tyneside have joined forces to oppose electoral reform.

When voters go to the polls at next month’s Local Elections they will also be asked to cast a vote on the proposed Alternative Vote (AV).

They are being asked whether to keep or ditch the current ‘first past the post’ electoral system.

In South Tyneside senior Labour councillors and supporters gathered on the steps of South Shields Town Hall to launch their ‘No to AV’ campaign, opposing any reform to the current way votes are counted and power distributed.

And they were joined by senior Tory councillor, Jeff Milburn, who represents the Cleadon and East Boldon ward.

Coun Milburn said: “This is one issue on which I can support Labour’s stance. I think there is a cross-party agreement that the AV system is unfair and unjust.

“It complicates things and is more expensive. The cost of this referendum, the first for 37 years, is £250m.

“First past the post is a much fairer system in my opinion, the only ones to benefit from AV are minority parties and if it were introduced it is more likely to result in hung parliaments and instability.

“The supporters also say that AV will help clean up the political system, but that’s totally misleading. All it will actually do is put second and third party choices into power, which is not what democracy should be about.”

Next month’s referendum was agreed as part of the coalition pact made between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives after last year’s general election.