I WAS interested to read the letters from Mike Baldwin and Steve Keable in last week's Crediton Courier, regarding the impending UK general election.

I totally agree with both of them that we need a different government.

For the sake of our country and for all of us who live here, we need to reverse the legacy of successive Tory governments whose political choices have led to a disintegration of essential services and infrastructure, a carbon footprint which is far greater than it could and should have been by now, and a dramatic increase in financial inequality between citizens - which, as is well documented from research and comparison of different countries in the world - leads to poorer health, more crime, more social conflict and less happiness throughout a population than there is in countries where the gap between rich and poor is small, even when the country overall is not rich like ours.

What both letters demonstrated to me however, is how much we need to get rid of our antiquated first past the post voting system and move forward to a system of proportional representation, in line with the majority of other western democracies. 

Mike describes what he thinks we need in a government, emphasising the theme of investing in people, in society, in the environment, and citing the Labour party.

I don't disagree with any of this, but there is another political party who also has a vision of what a better UK would look like and how we might achieve that, and not only in my view does it encompass all of the above, but makes a direct point about the need to understand the interconnectedness of social policy with environmental policy, and the consequent need to embrace progressive economic policies which would enable a government to invest in those things and – equally as important - to implement the policies in a way that will work.

That party is the Green party, whose policies have extensive – and rapidly growing – support throughout the UK.

During the past 10 years we have had a shining example in Caroline Lucas of what a Green party MP can look like, and the contribution they can make to parliamentary debate. But the Green party, like other relatively low profile and less well funded parties, has difficulty getting MPs elected in our current system.

Steve calls upon local Labour and Green leaders not to “split the vote” and we all understand, like him, that this is one way that voters can and do try to work the FTPT system to achieve a “less bad” outcome.

I have no doubt that in the coming weeks/months, we will have similar messages from the local Labour group, exhorting the Liberal Democrats - (and the Greens again - they often get the blame!) to not “split the vote” as well.

Which of the two voices you listen to, is likely to be the one you think is most likely to have a chance of winning the Central Devon seat.

In many constituencies, many people perceive that in order to avoid “wasting their vote” they have to base their choice on their beliefs and assumptions about which party is likely to get more votes, therefore trying to second guess what other voters will do – a form of gambling.

The result is that many people (and I've done it myself) reluctantly don't vote with their conscience, and “lend” their vote to another candidate whom they wouldn't vote for if they felt they had a choice. This isn't democracy, this is Madness.

So my own personal call to my fellow voters is, regardless of what compromise you currently feel forced to make, or even if at the moment your decision is that you will vote with your conscience, find out what your chosen prospective candidate's views are regarding our voting system, and whether this person, if elected, will commit to campaigning for electoral reform.

I urge my fellow voters to take this into account when deciding where to put their cross on the ballot paper. It is one of the things that will define our future.

Penny King