Saturday, November 06, 2010


AV Referendum Proving Controversial

Already the AV Referendum is causing some unease as I suspected it might. It's down to be held on May 5th next year but Labour has said it will not campaign in favour despite stating such a preference for AV in their last election campaign. Indeed it was their putative greater willingness to offer such a referendum that pushed Cameron into offering one himself thereby setting up the coalition arrangement. Instead Labour will concentrate on local elections and those to the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales. Andy Burnham, the election coordinator said:

"The referendum should have been held on its own day, when the yes and no campaigns could have argued it out. Our sole priority has to be, and will be, winning in Scotland, and Wales, and doing well in the local elections. It would be a recipe for chaos and confusion if Labour candidates were also supporting AV in their literature. The election and referendum campaigns have to be separate and distinct."

Listening to The Week at Westminster this morning, the point was emphasised that this bill is in two parts. The first section deals with the referendum and has ben passed but the second is concerned with reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600. There is quite a bit of resistance to the latter as every constituency in the country will be affected and boundaries will need to be redrawn. The last thing most MPs want is any messing about with boundaries even if the ostensible reason is to make them more similar in terms of population size. Labour MPs are convinced it will be a Tory jerrymandering stitch up and therefore many oppose the whole package.

In the Lords there will also be opposition and the bill might find it fails ddepending on how Crossbenchers view it as Philip Norton pointed out in his contribution to the programme. Moreover a poll on the isue itself reveals that AV is opposed 43% to 32%, an indicatioon that the Lib Dems have lost the support which might have boosted the 'yes' figure. Yougov's lartest poll showed the junior coalition party on a measly 10%.

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