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AV leaflet black poet 'airbrushed'

Voting reform campaigners have been accused of air-brushing a black poet out of leaflets calling for a "fairer" political system.

The "Yes" campaign - supported by the Liberal Democrats and Labour leader Ed Miliband among others - are said to have used a picture of Benjamin Zephaniah on literature distributed in London.

But documents sent out to homes away from the capital featured Blackadder star Tony Robinson instead.

The leaflets urge householders to back a switch from First Past the Post (FPTP) to the Alternative Vote (AV) in the referendum on May 5.

They say people should support AV because it will give them "a stronger voice".

Celebrities Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Colin Firth, Honor Blackman and Stephen Fry seemingly appear on literature issued across the country.

In London a picture of Zephaniah is reportedly included with a quote demanding a new electoral system that "makes everyone's vote count".

But in near-identical mailshots to locations such as Sussex and Cornwall he is replaced by Robinson complaining that under FPTP millions of votes "count for nothing".

Terry Paul, a spokesman for the NO to AV campaign, said: "Why are Yes to AV ashamed to have the support of Benjamin Zephaniah in places like Cornwall and Hampshire?

"The Yes Campaign's leaflet offers a chilling preview of politics under the Alternative Vote. We have warned that AV would encourage parties to pander to extremist opinions in a chase for second and third preference votes, but we never imagined the first example of such outdated views would come from the Yes Campaign itself."

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