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The Best Option

May 16, 2010 3:00 PM
By David Goodall in Special Spring Conference - NEC Birmingham

There are many of us in this room who like me were concerned at the reports talks between ourselves and the Conservative Party. Coming as I do from the south of England I have spent most of my political life campaigning against the Conservative party for votes and seats.

However after the general election result the Liberal Democrats were placed by the public's decision of trying form a working relationship with one of the other parties to form a stable government.

When it was revealed during the talks by David Cameron that he had offered a referendum on AV for Westminster elections, one term I heard a party member in Southampton to describe this was 'gobsmacked'.

There are still things to work out, but it not possible to put together a full detailed programme for a five year parliament in five days.

And there is not everything in the coalition agreement that we as Liberal Democrats would want, but that is the nature of coalition governments.

And the right wing of the conservative party is not that happy about this agreement, which to me is another indication that it must be a good agreement.

The most important issue for us as a party in the next parliament is to win the referendum on AV. It is not the best system, STV with multi-member and multi-candidate constituency's would be far better, but is AV is a start. It would able us, the public and the press to see the true level of support for the Liberal Democrats in the country.

In my Southampton Itchen constituency Liberal Democrats have come third in the past couple of elections. So this election I got people ringing me up saying "I like to vote for you, but I am afraid the Tories will get so I'll vote Labour" or conversely "I like to vote for you, but I am afraid the Labour will get so I'll vote Conservative". At least under AV these Liberal Democrat voters can vote Liberal Democrat with their first preference vote and use the second preference vote to block the candidate they dislike the most.

Of course if people actually vote positively for the most reasonable party with the best set of policies, instead of for the candidate they dislike the least, I believe that will result in many more Liberal Democrats being elected.

We come to conference twice a year vote on brilliant Liberal progressive policies that are being developed continually within the party. We come to conferences at which we talk and put the 'world to rights' as my mother says. We have the ideas and plans to really change the world and improve the lives of the people in this country.

That is what politics is about. And in Government we can put some of these ideas and plans into practice.

Please support the motion as a whole.