Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Legacy of Yes to Fairer Votes

As you may know, the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, who are trying persuade people to vote 'Yes' in the AV referendum on the 5th of May. They're doing well at the moment, with a recent poll giving the Yes campaign a 10 point lead and I fully expect us to win the referendum provided we keep up the good work.

However, even if we lose I still think this campaign will have achieved something. In Surrey about 20 people (including myself) formed a local Take Back Parliament group (TBP is the campaign which organised, amongst other things, two massive protests in London during and after the coalition negotiations.) When the AV referendum was announced TBP joined the Yes to Fairer Votes coalition. As a result, we now have a thriving local group who meet at least once a month (our next meeting will be held this thursday at the uni). We call ourselves Surrey Fairer Votes and have already held two successful street stalls with the hope to achieve much more between now and the referendum.

We all know each other pretty well now and there are new faces at each meeting and, furthermore, the central campaign has helped us set up a phonebank in Guildford which should really help us step up our game.

But my point is that we're not alone in this. My girlfriend, for example, was involved in the North London campaign over the summer and is still friends with her fellow campaigners despite having now moved to work on the campaign in Lincoln where she's now at university. Up and down the country the referendum has motivated thousands of people who care about fairer votes to form grassroots organisations which are being tied together through the national campaign. We're not politicians (well, I am, sort-of, but I'm one of the rare exceptions to the rule), we're ordinary people who care about democracy and who want to change the broken system that we have at the moment. And because of the campaign we're getting to know each other and form contacts. After the referendum, even if we lose, those networks won't just wither up and die. They're established now - a powerful grassroots organisation has been created throughout the entire country and it will keep fighting, win or lose.

I have no doubt that this organisation, self-led and democratic in nature, will continue to grow after the referendum. No matter what it ends up calling itself, it will endure and I have no doubt it will prove a potent political force in the future, campaigning for voting reform and a better democracy. Opponents of change beware - if we lose the first battle we will keep on fighting, and if we win it will spur us on to even greater triumphs. Your days are numbered.

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