Willie Sullivan: An electoral change that Cameron must endorse

DAVID Cameron has christened 2010 the 'Year for Change'. For those of us concerned with the state of our democracy after the expenses revelations of 2009, it's hard to disagree with the sentiment.

But sadly this promise of change does not extend to our broken elections. Mr Cameron's party remains absolutely wedded to a system that denies millions of voters – including almost every Tory voter in Scotland – a real voice in Westminster. Their view on the creaking first-past-the-post system is very much if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Well, it is broke. The Vote for a Change campaign emerged from the expenses crisis, when it became clear that safe seats bred the kind of complacency we witnessed over expenses. Disgruntled voters did not stand a chance of booting out some of the worst offenders, as they were secure in jobs for life in hundreds of our safest seats.

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We've been making the case for change since the summer. And Gordon Brown, never exactly "Mr Reform", appears to have accepted our argument that voters need more power and MPs need to be more accountable.

Yet the chorus has been sadly missing one vital element: the man who thinks himself our next Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron's version of change hasn't been that encouraging. Proposals to "reduce and equalise" seats in the House of Commons to root out supposed "Labour bias" would cut Scotland's presence without conferring any clear benefits to the voting public.

So we have delivered a message to Conservative HQ. We have tens of thousands of supporters who believe that voters deserve the final say on our political system. They are not expecting Conservatives to convert to reform overnight. They just expect them to practise what they preach on choice, and that means allowing a referendum.

For the first time in a century parliament will face legislation to change our electoral system. But an amended Constitutional Reform Bill still faces obstacles in both houses of Parliament, from government and opposition forces alike. Mr Cameron may get his chance to kill the bill. But what would that say about his change credentials? What will that say about his faith in the general public?

We'd hope that the 16 Conservative members at Holyrood – who put pay to the lie that Tories don't exist in Scotland – might help him with his decision.

• Willie Sullivan is the campaign director of Vote for a Change.