POLITICAL heavyweights are set to go head to head at Wakefield Cathedral over the voting referendum.
Former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson is to speak in favour of the Alternative Vote system while Conservative co-chairman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is in the ‘No’ camp.
Baroness Warsi will have 2010 Wakefield Tory candidate Alex Story in her corner while David Smith, the chairman of Wakefield and Morley Liberal Democrats, will be Mr Johnson’s second.
The debate takes place less than three weeks from the voting referendum on Friday, May 5. It will decide whether or not the Alternative Vote (AV) system should replace our present electoral method of First Past The Post (FPTP).
AV ranks candidates in order of preferences and these second or third choices can count if there is no clear winner.
Former Shadow Chancellor Mr Johnson told the Express: “I support AV because it gives more power to the electorate, strengthens the constituency link and ensures that every vote counts. First Past the Post, like our unelected second chamber, is one of the weaknesses in our democracy, not one of its strengths.”
The MP for West Hull and Hessle added: “I look forward to debating these issues with Baroness Warsi in the elegant surroundings of Wakefield Cathedral.”
Mr Story, who is in the ‘No’ Camp said: “I am pleased that David Smith, my erstwhile Lib Dem opponent and I, have been able to come together to make this event happen in Wakefield.”
The debate is on Saturday, April 16 between 3pm and 4pm. It will be chaired by the Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, The very Rev Jonathan Greener.
He said: “I’m looking forward to the debate because I haven’t made my mind up over which way I’m going to vote.”