Political debate with Anne Main MP and Sandy Walkington (Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate)

03 February 2011
Oaklands College lecturer Hans Svennevig brought politics into the heart of the student campus today when he invited Sandy Walkington (St Albans Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate, 2010) and Anne Main MP (Conservative for St Albans) to take part in a debate about the alternative voting system (AV) referendum, due to take place on 5 May 2011.

The event was open to all staff and students and the lecture hall was full by 10.30am when the debate kicked off.

Anne Main argued that AV wasn’t fairer and engaged students in a lively demonstration using lollipops to illustrate how the system would effectively hand power to the ‘least worst option’ rather than the party who represents what the public want.

She also pointed out that it was a costly way to run the elections and would open up potential for parties to strike deals with voters to get second, third and fourth votes. She said that AV would give the public a party that wasn’t really their choice.

Sandy Walkington then took the floor and clarified the AV voting method, pointing out that the college’s own student council used the system, as well as MPs in the House of Commons (for the selection of the speaker of the house), the Oscars, and countries like Australia and Canada.

He explained that the current ‘first past the post’ voting system really means that only around 30,000 people decide which government will be in power and everyone else’s vote is wasted (due to floating voters).

The AV system gives everyone a chance to have their say and represent the country – democracy in action and a step towards proportionality. He also argued that the current system is antiquated and AV is about freedom to choose and MPs would have to work harder for their constituencies in order to win their confidence.

The floor was then open to questions and students embraced the opportunity to question both Sandy and Anne further about AV, as well as raise other issues such as tuition fees and reducing the number of backbench MPs.