As astonishing story in The Times this Saturday reveals a large number of outspoken Lib Dem MPs have not exercised their right to pledge a second preference vote for Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Lib Dems are selecting a replacement to Charles Kennedy, who resigned as Leader in January.
All 75,000 members of the party vote one for their first preferred candidate, two for second and three for third… we call it proportional voting and it’s a rather sacred belief amongst Lib Dems that this form of second transferable voting is a better option to 'first-past-the-post'. The candidate in last place is eliminated and his backers’ second choices are distributed between the remaining two – it results in the most favoured candidate winning the election as determined by the party membership faithful.
The Times writes: For a party whose forebears embraced the cause of proportional representation for the best part of a century, and to whose members the single transferable vote has the status of the Holy Grail, their behaviour is at best inconsistent.
- Lord Kirkwood, chairman of Sir Menzies’ campaign, admitted: “I only used one preference myself. It is only of interest to anybody if Campbell comes third and I know he will not come third.”
- Lynne Featherstone, an MP backing Mr Huhne, confessed: “I have not used my second preference on this occasion.”
- Vince Cable, the Treasury spokesman, said: “I filled it in the day after it came. I honestly can’t remember whether I just went for Ming and not the other two, or voted for Chris [Huhne] second.
- Jo Swinson, 26, the youngest MP and a Campbell supporter, said hesitantly: “I cannot actually say… I’m fairly sure I voted for Chris Huhne as No 2.”
I have used my votes with Hughes – 1st and Huhne - 2nd. Unlike these honourable members of parliament who seem to support first past the post, I am confident most party members have determined who that wining candidate will be through second preference choices.
But then again the honourable members of the party would not have stabbed Charles Kennedy in the back – and this Leadership election would probably not be taking place at this time.