Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:34 pm on 6th September 2010.

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Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West 6:34 pm, 6th September 2010

That is the problem that I will discuss in my speech. I would hazard a guess that I have a lot more problems in my constituency than the hon. Gentleman does in his, even though it probably has the best MP it could possibly have. The fact is that we are disadvantaging the disadvantaged. The poll tax tried to do the same; Margaret Thatcher introduced it deliberately to get people off the electoral roll, so that people would not vote Labour. That was tried; it was run in Scotland before anywhere else, but-the hon. Gentleman may not know this-the Conservatives have only one Member of Parliament north of the border. After the next election, there will be one Liberal Member of Parliament there. Everybody will complain that all those who come to the House from north of the border are either Labour or from the Scottish National party, but it will be the Conservative and Liberal parties who brought that about. They are the ones who have made sure that their parties are not electable.

The Conservatives and Liberals do not even listen to their parties north of the border. The Liberal party will do its best to try to make sure that it gets seats, but I would not mind betting that the people around Inverness will go back to Labour; they used to have a good Labour Member of Parliament, and will return another Labour Member.

It will come as no surprise to everybody who knows me that I will not be voting for AV. However, I will not be able to campaign on the issue, because I will be too busy campaigning in the Scottish elections. Not only is there a first-past-the-post side to them, but there is a list system, too. There are now two systems that I need to promote and try to explain to the people of Scotland and, in particular, of my constituency, so that they know how they should vote and how they can get the best returns for a Labour candidate. Now, the Government are saying that we have to have a vote on AV as well; we have to have a referendum.

The issue is not that there is confusion in filling in ballot papers, although 100,000-odd people were disfranchised in the last Scottish election because two questions were put on the one ballot paper, as has been mentioned. That does not work; it confuses people when there are two different votes on one ballot paper, to such an extent that we have managed to ensure that there will be two ballot papers.