not able to pound the streets – make a call from home

20 Apr

With millions of postal votes landing on doormats around the UK – you can make a difference to the result in the referendum by making some calls from home.


a couple of weeks to go – leaflet delivery in Belfast

20 Apr

With only a couple of weeks to go before Referendum day on May 5th, it’s a day when the local campaign will be out and about in Belfast, and will be delivering some leaflets door-to-door.

Watch out for the leaflets and remember this is a small change that will make a big difference.

Press Release: Friends of the Earth say YES! to Fairer Votes

11 Apr


Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland today officially declared their support for the YES! to Fairer Votes campaign. In the run up to the referendum on the voting system on 5th May, YES! to Fairer Votes is engaging the voluntary and charitable sectors about the importance of a YES! vote.

Speaking today in Belfast, James Orr, Northern Ireland Director said: “Friends of the Earth believe the environment is for everyone. It is a natural fit for us to
support a campaign which would make those who govern the environment be more responsive to people’s desires.”

Stephen Glenn, YES! to Fairer Votes Organiser for NI, said: “Naturally, we’re delighted to add the support of Friends of the Earth to our growing list. A YES!
vote means an end to having to vote to stop who you don’t want and allows people to express preferences for those who reflect what you actually believe. It

will force MPs to work harder and ensure every vote counts as MPs have to gain the support of 50% of the people.”


Notes to Editors:
1. Photo of James Orr, Director, Friends of the Earth NI , and Stephen Glenn, NI Organiser, Yes! to Fairer Votes is attached.

2. Yes! to Fairer Votes is registered with the Electoral Commission as the campaign for a Yes vote in the Referendum on the Voting System on May 5th.

3. The Referendum on May 5th is our one chance to change politics. The Alternative Vote will:

  • Make all MPs work harder
    Two out of three MPs won their seats when most people backed someone else. AV means all of them need to aim for support from 50% of voters to get elected. So they’ll have to work harder to earn – and keep – our support.
  • Make your vote count
    AV lets you show your support for any candidates you think are up to the job. So if our favourite doesn’t win you can still have a say – it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…
  • Tackle the ‘Jobs for Life’ culture
    Most MPs are set for life in safe seats. It’s bred the arrogance we saw in the expenses scandal. AV forces lazy politicians to sit up and listen, and reach out to the communities they seek to represent – it makes safe seats less safe.

For interviews:

Stephen Glenn, 07585 400917

First past the post “an insult to democracy” – Kevin Maguire

6 Apr

Alternative Vote as easy as 1,2,3

Kevin Maguire the political correspondent of the Daily Mirror this morning backed the yes vote in the referendum on the 5th of May. He said:

“The Alternative Vote’s as easy as ranking candidates 1, 2, 3 and will increase people’s power ­­over politicians.

“I’m in favour because MPs will be more accountable.

“I’m in favour because MPs will have to work harder.

“I’m in favour because there’ll be fewer neglected safe seats.

“And I’m in favour because we’ll be able to vote with our hearts as well as our heads.”

This is man whose job day in, day out is amongst the MPs. He knows the ins and outs of Westminster like any other political correspondent and he says, “The old first past the post, winner takes all way we’re lumbered with is an insult to democracy. Twice the party with the most votes hasn’t formed the government.”

He says of the campaign for a no vote that they “treat people as fools when claiming they won’t understand a simple change.” This sort of approach has been insulting to people here in Northern Ireland where we do vote preferentially and do know the difference that a fair vote can have.

Don’t be taken for a fool, vote Yes! on 5th May.

Belfast Says Yes!

4 Apr
Belfast Says Yes!

Banner drop outside Belfast City Hall (Picture by Phil O'Kane: Used with Permission)

Once upon a time, not so long ago a very different message looked down on Belfast shoppers from the front of City Hall. But on Saturday local activists unveiled a different and new message to the lunchtime crowd, “Belfast says Yes!”. We also were not doing this alone over Saturday and Sunday in over 100 locations across the UK fellow activists for fairer votes were doing exactly the same.

Many stopped and took photos on their phones, taxi drivers on the rank opposite tooted their horns in agreement and many people said it was about time for people in Belfast to be positive about something.

At the last election only one of the four Belfast seats returned an MP with over 50% of the votes behind them, and he had abandoned them for a seat elsewhere. So of course the people of Belfast are wanting MPs that will work hard, reaching out beyond their core support.

Northern Ireland Organiser Stephen Glenn said:

“It was great to see the positive response from passers-by this afternoon. Belfast and Northern Irish voters understand the unfairness of First Past the Post, many of them can’t understand why we still have it for Westminster when they use their preferences to produce fair devolved and local government.

“As people were saying today it is about time people here were positive about something. It is good to see as we head into the final weeks so secure a Yes vote on 5th May.”

A Yes vote in the referendum on the 5th May will lead to hard-working MPs looking out for the concerns of their constituents as they strive to get and keep the support of over 50%. It will also do away with you, the voter, having to maybe lend your only preference to a party you may not necessarily agree with most just to stop someone else getting it. Voting yes means you can rank your candidates in order of preference for Westminster too.

Yes! in Derry/Londonderry

29 Mar

Our banner flying from the City walls at Guildhall Square

The YES! campaign has taken to the road to explain to people why it’s so important to vote YES! on 5 May. In the words of Gerry Anderson we went to Stroke City.

The team had an action packed day, campaigning across the city with Pól Callaghan and Martin Reilly, meeting John Hume, Colum Eastwood and Mark H. Durkan in and around the city as well as student leaders at Magee.  The campaign banner – Norn Iron says Yes – hanging from the city walls helped raise awareness about the move to fairer votes.

Northern Ireland organiser Stephen Glenn said:

“We are delighted to be in Northern Ireland’s second city to talk to voters and explain why such a small change will make such a big difference.  A YES! vote on 5 May will make MPs work harder for our support, gives us a stronger voice over who wins, and will stop “jobs for life” for MPs.  To have the support of Ireland’s Greatest in John Hume is a real boost to our campaign.”

Stephen Glenn, with John Hume, Martin Reilly and Pól Callaghan

With Mayor Colum Eastwood

With student leaders at the University of Ulster

Mark H Durkan joined us at "Hands across the divide" to say Yes!

Release: Rathlin says YES! to fairer votes

28 Mar

The Harbour, Rathlin Island

Rathlin says Yes! to Fairer Votes

Rathlin Islanders welcomed the YES to fairer votes campaign to their shores. The campaign spent a day talking to voters across the island about the upcoming referendum on 5th May.

The islanders had recently rallied around to secure the island’s ballot box so that they could continue to vote on the island. The residents are well aware that every vote matters and want their voice to be heard.

Stephen Glenn, campaign organiser for NI said: “Everyone I spoke to today said they wanted politicians to work harder to get elected. They want their vote to count and their voice to be heard. That’s exactly what the new Alternative Vote system will do. Rathlin Islanders have just as much right to be heard and we’re taking this campaign all across NI.”

Every vote counts from Rathlin and beyond


Community Organiser Laura Hawthorne on the ferry to Rathlin

you can still vote #yes2av if you’re not here on May 5th

21 Mar

Whilst out and about over the last few weeks many local people have told me that they won’t be here on May 5th and so won’t be able to vote in the Referendum. Of course, this is not true.

If you are going to be away from Northern Ireland, whether as a student, or away on holiday, or working away from home, and are registered to vote, you can apply for a postal or proxy ballot.

Contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland to get the form.

Some frequently asked questions about Postal and Proxy voting

Can I apply to vote by post or proxy?

If you are listed on the electoral register and you cannot reasonably be expected to vote in person at your polling station, you can apply to vote by post or proxy. The Deputy Returning Officer for your area will decide if the application is approved on those grounds.

When do I have to return my application by?

The deadline for the return of completed applications for the elections and referendum on 5 May is 5.00pm on 11 April 2011.

Will one application cover both elections and the referendum?

Yes, you only need to submit one application for both elections and the referendum.

Can anyone be a proxy? Do they have to be listed on the register?

Your proxy must be aged 18 or over and be a British, Irish, Commonwealth or European citizen (note: a European citizen cannot act as your proxy for the referendum). They do not have to be listed on the electoral register.

A person can only be the proxy for close relatives (husband, wife, civil partner, child, grandchild, brother, sister, parent or grandparent) and up to two other people at the same election.

My proxy won’t be able to make to the polling station on polling day – can he apply for a postal vote?

Yes he can apply for a postal vote up until 5.00pm on 11 April.

What identity does a proxy voter have to produce at the polling station?

They will have to produce one of the following identity documents:

  • A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part)
  • A UK, Irish or EU passport
  • An Electoral Identity Card
  • A Translink Senior SmartPass
  • A Translink 60+ SmartPass
  • A Translink War Disabled SmartPass
  • A Translink Blind Person’s SmartPass

Can I email/fax my application to you?

No, we require an original signature so cannot accept applications by email or fax.

Can I apply for an absent vote at an Area Electoral Office?

You can obtain the form from the Area Electoral Office but you will need to go and get it attested and then return with your application. We advise you to download the form from our website and get it fully completed before leaving it in to an Area Electoral Office.

When will I receive my postal vote?

Your postal vote will be issued from 19-21 April.


2011: A Political Oddity starring Ken Clarke

7 Mar
Ballot Box showing preferential voting

Image via Wikipedia

“Bring in highly odd and more extreme people” pleads Ken Clarke, speaking about what AV ‘really’ means for the UK. “Don’t vote Yes to AV – you are going to get an even odder collection of politicians”, he cries. How the mighty have fallen!

Reduced to predicting the apocalypse and using the type of attacks that would embarrass even a 9-year-old, Ken Clarke provides the perfect example of No2AV’s ongoing and ludicrous campaign to drag First-Past-The-Post out of the graveyard where it rightly belongs.

Yet this is just the latest in a long line of bizarre antics from the No2AV camp. With its made-up sums, botched poll and chronic unwillingness to defend the failed system it alleges to support, the No camp persist in avoiding the real issues, instead offering only the thinnest veneer of debate, using their fanciful nightmares to distract from reality.

Well let us look at the facts. The current system allows MPs to be voted in on just 3 out of 10 votes. It encourages tactical voting and narrows our choice in viable candidates. It allows MPs to abuse this system and keep jobs for life. It makes some votes worthless. If an MP wins with just 3 out of 10 votes, 7 votes were cast for nothing. Hardly representative.

Let’s stick with the facts.

AV empowers the population and makes votes count. It forces MPs to work harder. It gives the public a real choice. It means MPs will be elected with at least 50% support.

And David Cameron wonders how people could possibly think AV can help restore some faith in our politics.

We have the opportunity to vote in a system which makes the way we elect our MPs just. All the stubborn opposition want to do is play politics as usual. Fits their campaign perfectly. Is Ken Clarke so out of touch, to believe the public will elect odd and unusual people, that he is willing to deny them real power at the ballot box?

An opinion piece by Belfast-based Yes! to Fairer Votes supporter Patrick

Billy Bragg wants Northern Ireland to say Yes!

25 Feb
Billy Bragg with Stephen and Laura

Billy Bragg meets Yes! Campaign Team backstage at the Crescent Arts Centre

This week Billy Bragg has been in Belfast for the Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival but performing and carrying out a workshop. The musician and songwriter always well known for his political stances is one of the Yes! to Fairer Votes campaign vice chairs. Northern Ireland Organiser Stephen Glenn and Community Organiser Laura Hawthorne went along to meet him at the Crescent Arts Centre and get him to give a message to the people of Northern Ireland.

Why is Billy so keen to see a change in the way we vote in Westminster elections? He says:

“One of the worst aspects of our current voting system is the existence of so many ‘safe seats’, where the same party gets elected time and time again on a minority of votes, a phenomenon that undermines voter participation. Alternative Vote will challenge the safely seated MPs to get off their bums and start seeking the votes of the majority of voters in their constituency, forcing them to reach out beyond their natural supporters.”

In Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland we are hoping that our MPs do start to reach out beyond their natural supporters. That would mean that we are starting to have an existence that truly is shared. So if you want your MP to work harder and get off their “bums” to seek your vote, stand up say Yes! and get others to do so on 5 May. Contact us to out how you can get involved.

Here are a few words from Billy.