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Manchester councillors push for voting reforms

Poor Manchester turnout triggers referendum support

Published on October 14th 2010.

Manchester councillors push for voting reforms

A motion will go before Manchester City Council today supporting reforms to the political voting system in a 2011 referendum.

Undersigned by several councillors, the motion is campaigning for ‘a more representative voting system for the people of Manchester’ and ‘re-engage’ with voters.

The motion points out that a record 434-winning candidates in the 2010 General Election achieved less than 50 per cent of the vote in their constituency; and more than half the winning candidates in the 2010 local elections in Manchester were elected on less than 50 per cent of the vote.

The turnout in Manchester’s constituencies was ‘well below the national turnout’ of 65.1 per cent - 49.4% (Blackley & Broughton); 44.4% (Manchester Central); 50.7% (Manchester Gorton); 60.71% (Manchester Withington) and 51.16% (Wythenshawe & Sale East).

The motion said that Manchester has ‘more disenfranchised voters than other areas’ and criticised ‘the unfair distribution’ of seats won against votes cast under the First Past the Post system, both locally and nationally.

It took an average of 33,370 votes to elect a Labour MP, 34,979 to elect a Conservative MP and 119,994 for each Liberal Democrat MP.

A referendum on the Alternative Vote was proposed both by the Labour Party in its manifesto for the 2010 General Election and by the Coalition Government. Labour Party leader Ed Milliband MP has also said that he supports voting reforms.

“Council welcomes the fact that in May 2011 there will be a referendum on replacing the First Past the Post voting system with the Alternative Vote system,” it said.

The motion was signed by councillors Ankers, Ashley, Commons, Donaldson, Grant, Pearcey, Ramsbottom, Shannon, Shaw and Wheale.

The council meeting takes place today (Wednesday).

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