As promised here is what I would perhaps like to see as a real change of voting system. Its not new or untried but I think might work for us.
Its essentially a lower chamber that sees 50% of the seats allotted on the basis of the party list system. On your ballot paper you get the chance to vote for a national party. Its entirely proportional- you get 12% of the vote here you get 12% of the seats.
Generally in this set up you have to score over 5% to be included- which is the concession to keep out extreme extremists.
Add to this, the other 50% of the chamber is elected constituency representatives. The constituencies would need to be bigger (and perhaps more diverse, boundaries could be reworked to include both rural and urban in most settings). This allows for the independent local candidate to still be in the mix. It means we still have people to write to about local concerns. Its a place for those who aren't just professional politicians.
What I've outlined is the system Germany has. I'm not saying its perfect but it does meet our needs. We are party voters in essence, so we can have that. But it also allows room to have local representatives which we seem to want too (and if you want to vote for them by AV then so be it).
The system means that you can have your core party folk on the party list (leader at number 1 and so on), so you guarantee a bit of stability at the top: no danger of Nick Clegg losing his seat, which Lib Dems must be twitchy about already. It acknowledges that cabinet members sometimes need to be freed of constituency stuff.
Problems: can MPs make a leap from constituency to party list if they so desire.. is it two tier? How do parties decide who goes on the list? Can it be regulated? Should it be regulated?
Some folk will get upset that it means the BNP will have MPs. Well you either buy into democracy or you don't. If 5% of people vote BNP then give them representation. That's democracy. And its also in being included that one trick ponies will be shown up for what they truly are- basically devoid of any worthwhile contribution on the vast myriad of Parliamentary issues.
This is a more radical solution than AV. Its more risky because party list is directly proportional and thats too scary for some. It means we need to change electoral boundaries, so that no seat is as safe (AV doesn't fix that, my vote still counts for less under AV as I'm not on a marginal).. Thats a lengthy and difficult process but perhaps is worth doing.
So thats my solution. Thats what I want to hold out for. Thats what AV falls so far short of in my view.