On behalf of the Pirate Party, I would like to thank the voters that turned out to cast their ballots in the national referendum on whether to change the electoral system to the Alternative Vote. The outcome is not what The UK Pirate Party or I had hoped for, even if it is what we had come to expect over recent weeks.
Our failure, both as a party and as individual campaigners, was to not properly inform voters of the choice in front of them, or indeed why it mattered at all. The same criticism applies equally to the No campaign. On 5th May I was still explaining to people on the doorstep that they were going to be asked to vote in a referendum in addition to casting their council ballots. It is a sad day when, after months of campaigning on an issue as vital as electoral reform, voters were still unprepared to answer a simple yes/no question at the ballot box.
The most telling part of the result today is that the turnout clearly shows the option presented to the electorate was simply not compelling. The Alternative Vote was not, and is not the preferred alternative to FPTP for most voters. We believe that it isn't the best option for the country (as shown by the Jenkins commission). However we felt that it might have been a catalyst for further change; it is now time to look for a more direct and honest approach and properly present the case for change to the British people.
In the absence of an endorsement by the electorate, I feel that it is my duty and the responsibility of the Pirate Party to push in earnest for a more realistic, popular and beneficial alternative. I hope we can do this alongside many other groups and parties. This referendum was, after all a rejection of AV and not a rejection of the need for reform.
Our reception as a party by the Yes campaign was less than enthusiastic. Indeed, our offers of support were rejected on spurious grounds despite my repeated attempts to talk to people high-up in the Yes campaign. It was this kind of timidity that, in my opinion, contributed in some small part to the loss of the referendum. Nevertheless, I would like to present a reconciliatory offer; let's press forward with a campaign to first inform the electorate about, and then fight for a change to a specific proportional system of representation in the UK. Something that is well overdue and the very least we owe to the people of Britain.
What I am suggesting is that we work to offer a real, fair, honest and balanced change to the electoral system- not because it benefits one group or another, not because it papers over other issues in British politics, but because it allows people to express their choices and have their voices heard.
We hope that others will join with us in this endeavour, and we will be contacting like-minded groups. It will be hard work, but worthwhile change normally is.