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Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman denies signing up for anti-alternative vote campaign

CAMPAIGNERS have been embarrassed after wrongly saying Huddersfield’s MP backs their cause.

CAMPAIGNERS have been embarrassed after wrongly saying Huddersfield’s MP backs their cause.

Pressure group NO2AV claimed to have the support of more than 100 Labour MPs – including Barry Sheerman.

The campaigners are pushing for a ‘no’ vote in the referendum in May on introducing the alternative vote (AV) system for general elections.

But yesterday Mr Sheerman said he was still undecided on the controversial proposal.

NO2AV claimed on Wednesday that the Huddersfield MP was among 114 Labour Members of Parliament who planned to vote ‘no’ in the referendum.

The Examiner had contacted Mr Sheerman on December 16 to ask his opinion on AV. At the time, the Huddersfield MP said he was undecided but would make up his mind over Christmas.

The Examiner contacted Mr Sheerman yesterday to tell him he was named on NO2AV’s website as one of the Labour MPs backing its campaign.

But the Huddersfield MP said he was still undecided on the issue.

“I’m thinking about it, I’m pondering it, I’m reading about it,” he said.

“I will make up my mind early in the New Year.”

Mr Sheerman criticised NO2AV for claiming he backed its campaign against the alternative vote.

“I want to know why I’m on this list. I’ve never spoken to NO2AV,” he said.

“They might have got some young intern to ring round MPs, but that’s not what I call research.”

Two hours later, the Huddersfield MP called the Examiner back to explain that his name was on the list as a result of a casual conversation on an escalator with Jane Kennedy.

The former Labour MP is one of NO2AV’s national organisers.

Mr Sheerman said: “We discussed this when we were on an escalator at Westminster some time ago.

“I told her that my gut instinct was to retain the current system but I said I wanted to think about it.”

Mr Sheerman added that Mrs Kennedy called him yesterday to say sorry for including his name on the list.

He said: “She’s an old friend of mine and she called to apologise.”

Yesterday a spokesman for NO2AV told the Examiner that Mr Sheerman is opposed to the alternative vote system.

He said: “I think his intention was to spell out his position in the New Year.

“He is against the alternative vote, I don’t think he quite understood that we would release the list now.

“He is against AV, but he doesn’t want to talk about it publicly. That was an error on our part, it was a breakdown in communication.”

NO2AV claimed on Wednesday that 114 of Labour’s 253 MPs intended to vote against the alternative vote system in May’s referendum.

Party leader Ed Miliband backs changing the voting system, as do the Lib Dems.

Most Conservatives support retaining the first-past-the-post system.

 

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