Will the last country on earth to use first-past-the-post please turn out the lights?

British PM plans to ditch first-past-the-post

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced he will seek parliamentary approval for a referendum to ditch the first-past-the-post voting system for Westminster elections.

Mr Brown said that the switch to the Alternative Vote system could be part of a “new politics” which would restore public trust in Westminster in the wake of last year’s expenses scandal.

In a wide-ranging package of planned reforms, he also confirmed that a draft Bill to create a democratically accountable House of Lords will be published within the next few weeks.

And he gave his backing to parliamentary reforms to give MPs more power over the running of the Commons, new avenues for public petitions to be submitted for debate in the House and the swifter release of official documents under Freedom of Information laws…

It is thought that the Commons will vote on the issue before it rises for its half-term break next Wednesday, and Mr Brown’s spokesman this morning insisted that enough parliamentary time remains for it to reach the statute book ahead of the election, which must take place by June 3.

Mr Brown confirmed that he will campaign for a move to AV – under which voters rank candidates in numerical order, rather than simply placing an X on the ballot paper – in the referendum, which he said should be held by October 2011.

So that’s reform of the upper house, more power for MPs, and electoral reform, in one go. Must be nice to live in a country that can, you know, do things.