Alternative Vote Explained

On 5 May as well as voting in the local elections you will also be asked to vote in a referendum on how future voting will be carried out.

Currently we use a First Past The Post (FPTP) system in the UK, where the candidate with the most votes wins. The Alternative Vote (AV) is where you rank your candidates in order of preference and only when a candidate has 50% of the available votes is a winner declared. The video below will explain more.

Electoral Registration ““ a little rant

I’ve just (26/8/10) filled in my electoral registration form. It comes with a letter advertising that you can register by freephone, internet or text and even more annoyingly it tells you this again on the back of the envelope.

I wish I could! In the past I’ve used the freephone and internet registration and found them both very convenient. I wouldn’t use text as it would cost. But I am relegated to use post – AGAIN – because I have to add a 17 year old.

I don’t like snail mail. It’s not only slow; it seems highly variable. There are things posted out by the school to parents and often I’m receiving them much later than other people say they are getting them. I have also failed to receive things that should have been posted to me. In one case I chased it up and the sender insisted they posted it. I never received it. I have received mail for other addresses and gone out to post it on to them. So I didn’t really want to put something as important as an electoral registration form in the post, but I have done.

Look at the related article, published 21/8/09; commenters talking as if they might have their forms already, Mark Sheratt gets his, albeit from Newcastle council 24/8/09, I don’t get mine until 28/8/09. Snail mail ““ not good.

So my questions are these:

  • I added a 16 year old last year, so why does he not appear on the form this year?
  • Why not have a simple form available by internet registration to add or remove residents, including adding 16/17 year olds?

I shall wait a week then telephone the helpline to see if they will tell me whether we are registered.

I would be apoplectic with rage if I were prevented from voting. My son will turn 18 before May and would be none too pleased if he weren’t allowed to vote. He wants to vote in the local election and especially in the AV/FPTP referendum. He would’ve liked to vote from age 16 actually.


Have you, like me, been following the Presidential Campaign in the USA? Wow! They know how to drag something out don’t they?
It has been fun to watch though, and seeing the candidates Obama & McCain, turning out in all corners of the country to bid for those last few votes made me realise just how important it is for politicians of what ever level, to connect with the electorate.
I know that last week, it was a fairly intense news week. Feeling was running high throughout the city in the run up to the governance referendum, and for what? A below 20% turn out!
I found myself pondering why the turn out was so bad, do the people of our city care about what happens? Are the population so pissed off at the state of local politics? I came to the conclusion that councillors and MP’s alike need to engage with the population of our city!
Over the next seven months, our politicians have a chance of a new beginning, a clean slate. There is too much complacency, councillors say all to often ” this is the way it’s always been done”, well that just won’t do anymore!
The debate in this city of who will be leader and what party stands for what has got to be re-ignited. The people of Stoke on Trent need to be won over and our interest in the local political issues awakened.
What I would like to see is for us to take a leaf out of America’s book. I want to see the candidates for the Leadership contest go head to head in a number of public debates at somewhere like the Kings Hall (pictured top right) in Stoke with a packed audience and the whole thing broadcast to the entire city.
We have been small time for too long now, time to think big! It’s is time for our politicians to be made to face their electorate and to answer the questions put to them from us, the public.
We don’t want the Council’s highly paid press officer fencing the more demanding and sensitive questions. We don’t want it all to be kept “low key” and to be sorted behind close doors.
We want straight answers, straight talking and above all, we want the best man/woman winning.
By the time next May come around we want each party to state who is going to be their preferred Leadership Candidate and it should be this person that faces the public and fights to win the day for their parties! We want to know what each and every party stands for and what their manifesto is, so that we can make are minds up who will do the best job of leading our city.
They should know that if they do not deliver on their promises, both leader and party will be made to pay at the first chance at the ballot box, nowhere to run and no where to hide!
I would love the chance of chairing these debates. I would make sure every question was answered by all the leadership candidates. Imagine a packed Kings Hall and on stage the Labour, Conservative, Libdem, BNP and Independents leadership candidates all trying to win the day for their party and for themselves.
This would surely bring the party voice back into Stoke after so long of just hearing the same old, same old from the Elected Mayor and his Portfolio Holders.
We deserve more don’t we? We deserve a choice of what party and we deserve to know which leader we will get from that chosen party, don’t we?
So I throw the gauntlet down to the parties in our City:
Labour – Will it be Mike, Mark or Joy and what will you do for this City? Are your group united? Will you do better than when you had the majority last time? Will you look again at the decisions that made the Labour Elected Mayor so unpopular?
Conservative – Will it be Roger or Ross, and what will you do for the people you have so badly let down in Trentham and what Tory policies can we hear about?
Libdem – Will it be Jean or Keiran and how will you make your party electable in a city that has seen so few Libdem candidates in the past, will you tell us just what do you stand for?
BNP – Will it be Alby, Mike or Steve and is your party racist? What will you do for the sizable number of British people born here but who’s skin colour isn’t white?
What do we have to fear from you?
Independent – Will it be Alan, Brian or Terry and just what the hell do you lot stand for? What are your policies? Why do you court all the other parties in this city? Have you got a party manifesto?
I feel so passionate about getting this PUBLIC debate on and I want your help! I promise you I would make Jeremy Paxman seem like Bambi! I want to know what questions you want answers to! I want to know who you want as each parties Leader Candidate or who you don’t want! I want to know if you would attend a U.S. type of debate at the Kings Hall?
If we applied the pressure on to our local politicians they would not be able to get out of such an event! Can we make this happen?


In the first of a long series of blog articles, Longton North Labour Councillor Tom Reynolds, tells pitsnpots his feelings in the wake of last weeks referendum.

I would like to personally thank Tom for his blog, he is a hardworking young councillor and in my opinion we need more of his calibre in this city, no, not because he is Labour, but because he is driven and enthusiastic!

“First things first, I’d like to thank Tony and the team for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the blog. Despite the fact that some of the posts on here have given me and my close colleagues a rough ride, the aim of the site in raising interest in Stoke politics is invaluable. The 19% turnout in last week’s referendum was a dire demonstration of the indifference to politics as a whole in this city and any efforts to reverse this state of affairs is laudable.
I cannot proceed without mentioning the referendum outcome. I campaigned on the No Vote side of the argument as I believed in a model of governance where every citizen of the city was enfranchised to pick the person that leads the City Council. After six weeks of hard campaigning by both sides, the people of Stoke have spoken. I and the Labour colleagues that fought to keep the Mayoral model will of course respect the people’s decision to the utmost.
Paradoxically, as a group of councillors we are now much more powerful. We are now charged with the task of picking the new executive Leader of the Council, a leader who will have to face some enormous issues: education reorganisation, city wide regeneration and transforming the standard of services that the Council provides. So the big question is which direction?
There will be a lot of posturing from some individuals within the council that see themselves in with a chance of leading the authority in May 2009. Cllr Rigby, from the City Independents and Alby Walker from the BNP have both already thrown their hat in the ring. In my view, if either of these contenders succeeds the City is in trouble.
What do the Independents actually stand for? We know what they are against but do they actually have any ideas for moving the City forward – if they do I have not heard them. If Cllr Rigby does lead the council I cannot see what his platform would be. He has after all, admitted on Question Time that he supports BNP councillors and has campaigned for the Tories. What does he actually stand for?
Conversely we know exactly what Cllr Walker and his party stand for, and that is equally worrying. I am not going to enter into a tirade about their repugnant far right ideology or where it could lead. Instead there is a far simpler argument ““ the BNP is bad for business. If Cllr Walker ends up as the leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council we can all kiss goodbye to any inward investment.
The only people who can lead this authority, make services better and improve the city are the Labour Party (but that’s what you would expect from me). That is not to ignore the shift against Labour across the City. We must recognise that there is a widespread dissatisfaction about how things have been done in the past. What is absolutely crucial is that as a group of councillors, we demonstrate that Labour is the Group with the vision to improve our city.”


I’ve just spotted on the Sentinel website that the Stoke on Trent version of the Monopoly board game will feature Central Forest Park on the cheapest square on the board (Old Kent Road). Apparently, mystery still surrounds which Stoke on Trent location will be on the most expensive square – Mayfair.

This got me thinking, why don’t we here at Pits’n’pots have a bit of a vote on which Stoke on Trent locations we would choose for the cheapest and most expensive squares, if we were the board game manufacturer?

My personal choices are:

Cheapest – Vale Park (sorry Valiants! Obvious reasons – ie, not in Prem)
Most Expensive – Mark Meredith’s office (cos what goes on in there is priceless!)

What do the rest of you think? Reasons should be given!

I know you all love the stuff Tony puts on about Referendums, MP’s, politics etc, but I like a bit of fun every now and again, and think this will highlight in a lighthearted way some of the great sites in Stoke on Trent.

Come on, give it a go….