Tag Archives: Belfast

Taking the Message of Fairer Votes to the Road #Yes2AV

4 May
Yes! Message taken to the gates of Stormont

Yes! Message taken to the gates of Stormont

In just 24 hours polls will have closed. But Yesterday earlier this week the Yes! ad van travelled across the Irish Sea to join the team here in Belfast and was taken to the very gates that lead up to Parliament Buildings. It also went to the offices of Dawn Purvis, Naomi Long and Chris Lyttle.

If you want fair votes to elect you MP to Westminster. If you want your voice to be heard and your vote to count then say yes tomorrow.

Polls open in 9 hours at 7am and close at 10am.

Don’t forget to vote here in Northern Ireland you need to take along your valid ID. So take along one of the following:

  •  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

Eddie Izzard’s Yes! Express including scenes from Belfast #Yes2AV

4 May

On Sunday Eddie Izzard came to Belfast here is a video of his journey from Southampton, to Bristol, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham and Nottingham on that day. There are some good clips of Belfast including our runners, him on a street lift, gate crashing wedding pictures and with our banner. Not forgetting the cocktail he got served in Malmaison. Enjoy.

Don’t forget to vote Yes! tomorrow and take along your ID to the polling station.

Valid forms of ID are:

  • 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

Showdown in the Pub – Wilson 0, Glenn 10

21 Apr

A few weeks after the botched attempt by the NO2AV campaign* to rig a debate in Belfast on the subject of the Referendum on the voting system on May 5, it might have been better for the NO campaign if Brian Wilson had stayed at home tonight as well.

Tonight was the Belfast Skeptics in the Pub – . The invited speakers were Brian Wilson for the NO2AV campaign and Stephen Glenn for the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign. The evening was ably chaired by Conor Prendergastin the Club Room of the Parlour Bar, Elmwood Avenue in Belfast.

Opening arguments from both speakers were to be about 10 minutes long. With a call of ‘heads’ from Brian and a toss of coin which showed ‘tails’, it was Stephen’s turn to speak first, followed by Brian, and then to questions from the meeting.

The two speakers could not have been more different in style. The former MLA and current North Down councillor read a speech from his notes, and then proceeded to get his notes all in a muddle. Stephen, Party conference veteran and speaker against the SNP, Labour and Tories in hustings in several elections spoke without notes, presenting some key facts, together with real arguments.

Stephen explained that last May in the Westminster election only three of our 18 MPs iwere elected with more than 50% of the vote; that 3 Northern Irish MPs only got 1out of 3 votes last May as well. Therefore 15 out of our 18 MPs were elected with a majority of voters not wanting them.
Brian Wilson agreed with this. In fact, Brian Wilson agreed with most of what Stephen said. It was hard to see exactly why Brian Wilson was speaking for the NO campaign – other than his suggestion that in Northern Ireland, AV will result in a sectarian head count. I should point out that we heard no arguments tonight propounding the benefits of the current system known as First Past the Post**.

Further facts from Stephen:

– In 1951 94% of MPs in Westminster were elected with more than 50% of the vote in their constituencies.
– Last year, in 2010, only 33.44% of MPs were elected in the same manner.

He explained that the Institute for Public Policy Research had stated that

FPTP is a system designed for an age of political tribalism which no longer exists. AV suits the electoral conditions prevalent in Britain today – particularly the shift to multi-party politics. Voters are much more promiscuous in the way they vote than in the past and AV is more adept at probing and reflecting the electorate’s political pluralism. There is clear support for AV among non-tribal voters.

from The Right Alternative: Assessing the case for the Alternative Vote

Brian Wilson presented no facts that I could discern from his rambling speech other than the fact that he was a member of the Electoral Reform Society and thought that we should vote NO at this point as AV was not really a reform that was worth campaigning for.

When asked questions about what was more important: how our politicians were elected or how they carry out the business of parliament when elected, Brian concentrated on the voting problems of those who designate as neither ‘Unionist’ nor ‘Nationalist’ in the Northern Ireland Assembly. As Stephen Glenn pointed out, the AV Referendum will not affect how MLAs are elected. It is solely on how MPs who sit in the House of Commons are elected. It seemed as though the Green Party had been taking lessons from Sinn Féin on how not to answer a question. It wasn’t quite Martin McGuinness‘s once stock answer of:

That’s not the question, the question is…

but it was coming quite close.

All in all, if the NO campaign can only muster a bumbling retired MLA as their spokesman with no clear, positive arguments for staying with the current system, I think it was clear tonight that there were more people being convinced by the well argued, well reasoned, factual points from the Yes campaign.

As I remarked on the way home, if I had debated in the style of Brian Wilson when in the Ballymena Academy Debating Society, I’d have been laughed out of the society. It really does go to show that the Assembly on the hill at Stormont has a debating style worse than school debates.

cross-posted from Gyronny Herald


* When Brian Wilson MLA (as he then was) of the Green Party failed to turn up to the NO2AV’s debate in Belfast, whilst Stephen Glenn, of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign did turn up.

** But what post? At least in AV there is a post of 50% of the vote.

South Belfast voters are saying YES! to Fairer Votes

21 Apr
10,000 voter of the YES! campaign

South Belfast voter Andrew Liggins says YES! to Fairer Votes.

As you will see from here and other places online, the YES! campaign in Northern Ireland has been the length and breadth of the province – from Enniskillen, to Armagh, Belfast, Londonderry/Derry, Coleraine, Portrush as well as making the trip to Rathlin Island.

Today the campaign is out and about in South Belfast connecting with local voters including Andrew Liggins who said he is voting YES!

On May 5th Andrew’s MP, Alistair McDonnell who is a member of the SDLP will be voting YES as well. This will mean that in the next election he will need to get more than 50% of the vote to be elected.

If you would like to get more involved, please visit yesni.info

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.

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.

Democracy Drinks – 28 Feb, 7.30–9pm, The Parlour

18 Feb

Join us for Democracy Drinks

Sign up to join us for our Democracy Drinks on 28th February in the Parlour Bar, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast, from 7.30 until 9.00 p.m.

Local activists will be there to tell you why they are voting Yes, and to provide further information on how you can get involved in the campaign in Northern Ireland to make sure all MPs work harder.

Find out more about what we are doing by liking us on Facebook.


Join me in making our MPs work harder – says Michael Carchrie Campbell

17 Feb

Fairer Votes Belfast Coordinator, Michael Carchrie Campbell, says Yes!

Michael Carchrie Campbell, Fairer Votes Belfast coordinator is calling for those who support the change to the Alternative Vote for electing MPs to Westminster to support the nationwide campaign and help ensure that there will be a positive result in the UK-wide referendum on May 5th.

Speaking this afternoon, Michael said:

“Following Royal Assent to the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act earlier today, we now have the referendum to make the change to a fairer voting system set for May 5th.

“The Yes campaign needs as much help as possible to ensure that the real messages are put out to all of us in the communities of the UK. To help us all in our local groups do this, the campaign centrally needs major financial assistance. We’re not backed by the rich bankers or the trade unions. We’re a campaign of the people. That’s why I’m asking you to join me in donating as much as you can to the campaign so that we can get as much literature printed and campaigning training carried out as quickly as possible.

“Of course, once we have literature printed, and then in our hands here in Belfast, we will be organising street stalls and other events to make sure that all voters in the UK know why this campaign is one of the most important ever in our history.”

To help the Yes campaign please donate as much as you can afford. And say Yes to Fairer Votes as well.

Watch this space for more updates on what will be happening in and around Belfast in the coming weeks and months.

YES! vote will have real impact – Cllr Niall Kelly

9 Feb

Cllr Niall Kelly says Yes! outside Belfast City Hall.

Belfast city councillor, Niall Kelly, has blogged about his reasons for supporting the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign.

Niall says:

Of the three elections which will take place on 5th May the  AV referendum will probably receive the least media coverage but it is a worthy campaign and, if successful, will have a real impact on future elections in Northern Ireland and Britain.

If you want to be involved and support the campaign, do get in touch with Stephen Glenn the NI organiser on northernireland[at]yestofairervotes[dot]org[dot]uk or by phone on 028 9089 1798.

There Will Be an AV Election in the Lords

9 Feb
View of the House of Lords Chamber in the Pala...

Image via Wikipedia

As anyone who has followed proceedings in the House of Lords, with regard to the Bill that could bring about a referendum for a fairer voting system for Westminster elections, the Labour peers have dragged their heels.

There are still 92 positions for hereditary peers in the House of Lords. This was the number that was decided upon in 1999 would exist until all hereditary positions were removed. However, when one of that number dies, there is a by-election in the upper chamber. Normally this is an election by the members of that peers political designation to keep the balance as it is.

The death on Christmas Eve of Lord Strabolgi necessitates just such a by-election. The timing of this event, Lord Strabolgi’s political history and the means to elect his replacement leads to an ironic coincidence.

For many years Lord Strabolgi was a Labour peer for most of life (even being a front bencher) although he was recently technically an independent as one of the deputy speakers. He was one of only four Labour hereditary peers in that original panel of 92. Today’s announcement of the by-election to take place on 22 March comes while their Lordships are still debating the Bill that contains the referendum on the Alternative Vote. The means of electing Lord Strabolgi’s replacement is ALTERNATIVE VOTE!

If Lord Strabolgi had not been a deputy speaker only the Labour Peers would be ranking their candidates in order of preference on 22 March. As it is all the life peers will have a say in selecting a replacement.

However, if it is good enough for the largely unelected Upper Chamber of Parliament to elect the only elected element to their chamber why is the Alternative Vote not good enough to fill the fully elected House of Commons?

AV is used in many ways by the political classes in the UK for elections among themselves. Why? Because they see it as a fairer way to come to a result. Yet some of those political classes don’t think the people should have the same chance as they give themselves. That’s why Yes! to Fairer Votes are campaigning for that change. That’s why people are calling from our phone bank in Belfast to tell others about the referendum.

You to can get involved email northernireland(at)yestofairervotes(dot)org(dot)uk (replacing the relevant bits) or call us on (028) 9089 1798 to get involved today.

Stephen Glenn is the Northern Ireland Organiser for Yes! to Fairer Votes