Next Thursday (September 9) sees the Launch of Fair Votes For Dorset’s ‘Yes’ Vote Campaign at Bridport’s No. 10 café and bar (7.30pm).

The campaign includes members of the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Citizens’ Action Party, the Labour Campaign For Electoral Reform and George Galloway’s Respect Party.

It additionally has the support of people involved in the local peace movement and some transition towns activists.

Fair Votes For Dorset are committed to working as part of the national campaign to achieve a ‘Yes’ Vote in next year’s referendum about changing the voting system.

We will seek to maximise the poll next May for the Alternative Vote (AV) system.

The current, obsolete first past the post method of electing MPs and councillors invariably guarantees bland, centre right governments and self-interested council controlling groups.

It sees negative voting – electors using their vote to stop what they don’t want – as opposed to positively affirming what they do and a small minority of floating voters in marginal wards and constituencies determining who wins power.

Inevitably, it frustrates those innovative politicians who dare to think ‘outside the box’ and has delivered the poll tax, the railway privatisation and the war in Iraq.

Locally, it has saddled the community on Portland with an unloved biofuel plant and the closure of the desperately-needed women’s refuge in Weymouth.

The Alternative Vote is not what most reformers wanted, but it does at least require elected representatives to win at least 50 per cent of the vote share in order to achieve election for their ward or constituency.

Just as importantly, a ‘Yes’ vote for AV next May will at long last open the door for some much more radical and proportional voting system that can begin to create that direct, lively and participatory democracy that so many of us crave.

Richard Drax was to some extent right when he asserted at the general lection that people weren’t that interested in electoral reform and other constitutional issues.

That is in no small part due to our predominating political culture – one of cynical disengagement, in which people feel powerless in a first past the post system that denies real ballot box choice.

Ranged against the ‘Yes’ Vote are those in the Murdoch Press, the Tory right and the dinosaur tendency of the Labour Party who are desperate to keep their ‘vested interests’ under FPTP.

Next Thursday’s event, will have speakers, including Mary Southcott of the Labour Campaign For Electoral Reform from Bristol and Peter Facey national director of Unlock Democracy from Cambridge.

I urge the local public and electoral reformers alike to make the short trip into the town irrespective of their party political views.

Richard Denton-White, Chairman, Fair Votes For Dorset, Fortuneswell, Portland