07 May 2011

UK votes no to change

From the Electoral Commission (UK) news release
First UK-wide referendum in over 35 years delivers a "No" to changing the UK Parliament voting system

07 May 2011

Jenny Watson, the Chief Counting Officer and Chair of the Electoral Commission, the independent elections and referendum watchdog, announced the result of the first UK-wide referendum in over 35 years at 1am today, Saturday 7 May.

In response to the question: "At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?". The number of votes cast in favour of "Yes" was 6,152,607 and the number of votes cast in favour of "No" was 13,013,123.

For further information including local and regional breakdowns please see the Commission’s results website.

Announcing the result, Chief Counting Officer and Chair of the Electoral Commission Jenny Watson said: " I'd like to thank all the Counting Officers and their staff for their work over the past weeks and months, preparing for the elections and this referendum, staffing polling stations on Thursday and counting the votes."


For more information contact
Office hours: 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours: 07789 920414
Follow the Commission on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK  
The people have spoken and the current system in all its simplicity - counting of votes, no preference deals etc - is maintained.  

Patrick Wintour, writing in The Guardian, sums up the political response from the 'defeated'
In a rejection of the Liberal Democrats' 90-year quest for electoral reform and Nick Clegg's supposed big prize of the coalition, the yes camp won only 11 of the 440 voting areas and not a single region in the AV referendum.

Clegg accepted the result without complaint. "When you have such a overwhelmingly clear answer you just have to accept it and move on. This is a bitter blow for all those people who believe in the need for political reform, but the answer is clear and the wider job of the government, and the Liberal Democrats in government will continue, to repair the economy, to restore prosperity and jobs and a sense of optimism in the country. That is the job we started and we will see it though. We will dust ourselves off and move on."

Labour leader Ed Miliband, who also campaigned for a yes vote, said: "I am disappointed, but the people have spoken clearly on this issue, and it is a verdict I accept."
One of the best analysis of the implications is from Jonathan Freedland, also in The Guardian
The immediate impact will be on the coalition. Lib Dems now understand exactly why the Tories were so eager to make that "comprehensive and generous offer" a year ago this weekend. It was not so much a power-sharing arrangement as a blame-taking one: the Lib Dems' role is to be the Conservatives' human shield and on Thursday they played the part perfectly. They took the heat while the Tories remained unscathed, their share of the vote unchanged since 2010, with even some council gains in England. For the senior partner, coalition is working out very nicely.

Conventional wisdom says Clegg will now demand a consolation prize or two, goodies to soothe his battered party and keep it content with coalition. But Cameron has no pressing reason to be emollient. For what leverage does Clegg have? He can't threaten to walk out, knowing that in an early general election only annihilation awaits. The Lib Dems are now hostages in this coalition, chained to the cabinet table, fated merely to hope that something turns up between now and 2015.
It was always a shaky coalition from the beginning. Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have another four long years in politics.

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