Local MP's Seat Could Become 'Ultra-Marginal' Under AV

Stephen Hammond's seat could become unsafe

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New research has revealed that the seats of Wimbledon's Conservative MP Stephen Hammond would be more likely to change hands under the alternative vote (AV) system.

The New Economics Foundation think tank has identified ten seats is London that would be affected if the country votes 'yes' to the AV system on May 5.

It analysed six general elections between 1983 and last year to look at how likely seats were to change hands. They were then ranked on a scale from "ultra safe" to "ultra marginal".

The think tank says Mr Hammond's seat would be re-classified from 'marginal' to 'ultra marginal'. At the last election he had a majority of 11,508.

In the May 5 referendum, voters will be ask to choose between the current first-past-the-post system in which one candidate is chosen, or whether they want to switch to the alternative vote system in which candidates are ranked in order of preference.

But a spokesman for Mr Hammond says his reaction to the analysis was one of "surprise". He said: "Stephen took over 49% of the poll in 2010 and with the opponents fairly evenly split it is difficult to see how they reached this conclusion. If a candidate has 49% of the poll it usually impossible for them not to win even under the unfair AV system. We wait to see the methodology used. It is possible to say Wimbledon might be less safe but to label it ultra marginal seems bizarre.

"AV is an unfair way of electing MPs; it gives most power to the minority which must the complete reverse of what is intended. Stephen was over 20% ahead of his opponents in 2010 and so the will of Wimbledon electors is clear. Stephen will be urging everyone to reject the unfair AV system and retain the clear First Past the Post system."

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April 8, 2011