Alternative Vote Debate: Kings Heath, Birmingham

Love Kings Heath

On Saturday 2nd April some of the region’s top authorities on voting reform will gather in Kings Heath, Birmingham, to present their perspectives to the community, and join in the conversation about the upcoming alternative vote referendum.

This important event will take place at 12 noon at All Saints Church in the heart of Kings Heath village, and will see MP for Edgbaston Gisela Stuart (Lab) and 2010 parliamentary candidate for Solihull Maggie Throup (Con) argue the ‘No to AV’ case from different points of view, whilst MP for Northfield and chair of the All Party Group on Electoral Reform Richard Burden (Lab) will argue the ‘Yes to AV’ case, with Professor Simon Green of Aston University offering a wider perspective on the debate.

The event, organised by Peace Church and All Saints Church in Kings Heath, provides a unique opportunity for the Birmingham community to explore the issues raised by the AV referendum in a creative, conversational manner. Invited panelists will have a limited amount of time in which to present their arguments to the floor, after which they will engage with smaller groups to discuss the issues raised by the presentations.

This‘community conversation’ is not an opportunity for politicians to preach at the public, but a real chance for the public to engage with their politicians and each other, to grapple with the proposals for important changes to democracy in the United Kingdom.

Richard Burden MP, who is chair of the All Party Group on Electoral Reform and will be presenting the ‘Yes to AV’ argument, said ‘Introducing AV is a small change – but it could have a big impact in helping to create a more open and participatory politics. A lot of people in this country find politics a really big turn-off – and I can understand why. They want to see a change in the way politics is done. I do too.’

Simon Green, Professor of Politics at Aston University, said ‘The freedom to choose our elected representatives underpins the legitimacy of our democracy, so the question of how we make this choice affects everyone.’

Vicar of All Saints Church, David Warbrick, who will be chairing the discussions, said ‘I believe it is important to host a conversation about electoral reform because, however disappointed we may be about the way this referendum has been timed and planned, it is going to take place, and any chance to facilitate conversation, to re-engage politically and to heal complacency should be grasped.’

The referendum on the alternative vote system, which will take place on the 5th May 2011, is an important milestone in the history of democracy in the United Kingdom. Any reform of the voting system, which has not been seriously considered in Parliament since the 1930s, would be a fundamental change to the way democracy is practiced in Britain. It is vital therefore that, as citizens, we are informed by thorough discussion and public examination of the issues, not just by advertising, campaigning and political rhetoric.

The community conversation on the 2nd April is an amazing opportunity to start this exploration and discuss the consequences of our democratic practices for our country and our communities.

For further details or to indicate attendance at the event please email: avkingsheath@gmail.com

Or register for tickets here:  http://avkingsheath.eventbrite.com/

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