Thursday 4 November 2010

A Personal First

Last night I took part in my first telephone conference, or actually telephone briefing, since there was no opportunity to contribute. This was held by the "Yes to Fair Votes" campaign. After all the fuss and palaver of getting "selected" to take part (applying by Email, being given a telephone number to ring and a password) it was a bit of a damp squib. Maybe my mood was not as positive as it should have been as the event coincided with The Archers, so I was forced to miss my daily "fix" of vicarious rural life.

The conference or briefing began with a long period of curious "space odyssey" type music, followed by such a long silence that I presumed the whole thing had "crashed" and was tempted to ring of and switch on The Archers anyway. Then a lady whose name sounded like Katie Gooche or Goose (I have checked with the website but can't find any mention of her to verify this)told us that thousands had applied to take part in the event, we were the lucky 500, and explained that AV would have the advantages that:

Votes would count for more
MPs would have the support of at least 50% of their electorates
MPs would have to work harder

and that we must keep the message simple.

I suppose that an AV vote will "count for more" in that it will give us a second choice as well as a first, but I do not necessarily want MPs to "work harder" on the constituency welfare cases which so preoccupy them, but in fact should be done by properly empowered local councilors while MPs reflect on the great issues of the day and hold the executive to account.

Willie Sullivan then told us that the "other side" would have big money from Tory -supporting businesses, but we had the advantage of enthusiastic activists such as myself so we can "beat them on the ground." "They" will buy advertising but we have regional organisers in place and training sessions are being planned.

Two questions from named contributers on the lines of "What can I do to set up an organisation in my area" received routine answers. My own question, submitted beforehand, " What can we do to get proper PR by STV in multi-member constituencies on the ballot paper?" received no mention, nor did any similar basic issues. Perhaps it's too late for that, but I can't help feeling we've let the opportunity for genuine reform go by default.

The event only lasted around ten minutes, so I was able to catch the end of The Archers. Linda is having difficulty in casting the village pantomime. Sets the blood racing at about the same level as, so far, the campaign for electoral reform.

1 comment:

  1. I have always wondered what queries MPs actually dealt with at their surgeries and through the post/wherever and why, for the most part, these hadn't been handled by local councillors, the ever overpressed Citizens Advice Bureau.
    Do they just get the attention-seekers? ("Right then, I'll take it up with my MP?")
    Has any analysis ever been done? For example, on whether the queries should have gone to someone else in the first place (govt department?) and if the MP took it on what action was taken and what result achieved.

    Harry Hart, Cheltenham

    PS: I stopped listening to The Archers in protest after Grace Fairbrother was wantonly killed off in pursuit of ratings.