Croydon’s almost unseen and unheard Liberal Democrats had better get active, and quick, otherwise the fundamental concession that their party leaders have managed to squeeze out of Call Me Dave and his Old Etonian millionaire chums for putting them in power is likely to be wasted.
We saw on the streets of South Croydon on Saturday how the coalition “works”: Call Me Dave gives Nick Clegg a referendum on a new voting system, and then the well-funded Conservative party mobilises a campaign against the AV system on offer.
While half a million ordinary people were marching against the cuts in London, Conservative Councillors Clare Hilley and Michael Neal were campaigning against AV, the alternative vote system. Which Tory Croydon Councillor was it who said openly: “Don’t you just hate the coalition?“
This coincides with a national poster campaign that includes one scaremongering slogan which suggests that a new voting system would prevent frontline troops from being properly equipped. It is a leap of logic which ignores the possibility that the MoD can be properly resourced and run while there is also a democratic voting system in place. The two are not mutually exclusive.
There is to be a national referendum on May 5 on the voting system issue: should we keep the old first-past-the-post voting system (Gavin Barwell was elected in Croydon Central, for instance, without support of 61 per cent of his electorate), or change to the Alternative Vote system, where voters’ second and third preferences can influence on the outcome?
AV is the system preferred by the Electoral Reform Society as being a more democratic method of election.
Local Lib Dems will be on the streets of Thornton Heath on Sunday, and there is a debate on AV at Ruskin House, Coombe Hill Croydon from 7pm this Tuesday.