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Tories exploit Clegg's unpopularity to fight AV

Michael Crick | 11:01 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Conservative MP Charles Walker has given me a sneak preview of the design for a leaflet which his local party will shortly be distributing in his Broxbourne constituency in Hertfordshire.

It's always an interesting test of how much a party leader is an asset - either to his own side, or to their opponents - to see how much they feature in campaign literature of one side or the other.

Mr Walker claims to have chosen a pretty neutral picture of the Lib Dem leader, in comparison with many of the very unflattering pictures of Mr Clegg that were offered to him by the No to AV campaign.

But Broxbourne Tories are clearly exploiting Nick Clegg's unpopular image at the moment to boost the "No" vote. That won't do much good for coalition harmony.

And I imagine that as the AV contest hots up many of his Conservative parliamentary colleagues will be tempted to go a lot further, using the referendum to make public their views not just on AV, but on Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems, and the whole coalition project.

Nick Clegg can hardly complain, though, about such tactics. For years Lib Dem leaflets used to include a pretty unflattering picture of Tony Blair and George W Bush.


  • Comment number 1.

    We must make use of all means to get a NO vote. As Barry from Auf Wiedersehn Pet said so eloquently all those years ago, under AV "everybody gets what nobody wants!"

  • Comment number 2.

    I could not disagree with you more. I live in a constituency that thanks in no small part to first past the post will be a safe Labour seat for the foreseeable future. Not only did the previous PM over-rule the local party's choice of candidate (causing considerable local resentment) in order to get one of his cronies into Westminster but I have to tell you the case for a non-Labour voter like me simply not to bother to vote is pretty overwhelming. I'm sure Labour voters in safe Conservative seats for instance must feel the same sense of futility.

    The AV helps to address both problems and, in the most important consideration namely the fair allocation of seats to parties, as opposed to the more trivial personality contest for individual MPs, leads to a government that reflects the true choice of the majority of voters, while making the careerist politicians ensconced in their safe seats less secure in their employment.

  • Comment number 3.

    All politics aside that is truly a terrible leaflet. Looks like the mediocre efforts of a 10 year old who is trying to get to grips with MS Word!

  • Comment number 4.

    Who needs a Nick Clegg photo? All they need is ballot paper with 10 or so candidates on it bearing the legend: How would you rate these? Plenty of voters can't bring themselves to put any kind of mark against their hate figures. Future AV election nights will be spent piling spoiled ballots onto a huge mound, bigger than the eventual winners'. Let's see how the boundary changes pan out first.

  • Comment number 5.

    please please put Cleggs photo on all things AV...then we will have a crushing defeat for the Yes men...gooddie

  • Comment number 6.


    And only unskilled voters (having passed no exam - received no certificate) would vote that cipher ninny in PURELY BECAUSE THEY WEAR A PARTY ROSETTE.

    The whole charade is riddled with corruption. Mature, competent individuals would not endorse this pseudo-democracy for a moment. In contrast, Westminster sees only advantage.

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear Mr Crick,

    Am sorry to say how increasingly disappointed I am with your blogs. Although I also accept that the team may be increasingly marginalised with the new paymasters. My thoughts and words, not yours.

    Nevertheless, Mr Crick - how about discussing the ludicrous idea that MPs, the so-called people's representatives, are now allowed to Twit while in The House of Commons?

    Do you, Mr Crick, not see and feel, instinctively that there is a serious and fundamental problem with that? Either way - please bring it to the attention of the News Night Team. Thank you for reading this. Regards and long live News Night!

  • Comment number 8.

    A funny thing happened on the way to the forum the other day. With all of the improvements in public space every now and then you can look up and notice a billboard with an advert from one of those high street banks and low and behold. On what must be the biggest of them all is a just very slightly out of focus photo of the Deputy PM reading from behind a banking flyer. For all intense purposes I could be mistaken as 3D glasses may have been the necessity I could do without too view in full this 30ft alternative message.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think the AV vote should have 3 options - Yes, No, Maybe.

    You should rank your preference 1, 2 and 3.

    If no options get 50% after round 1, then the 2nd preferences of the least favoured option come into play.

    Otherwise its just a case of this desperate first past the post voting system all over again.

  • Comment number 10.


    I was very struck by Nick's simple support for AV, set against Dave's DEMOLITION OF ANY IDIOT WHO HAS TIME FOR IT as his NO effort.

    Do you think Dave would stoop so low as to 'let it be known' that it would do no harm for Nick's face to get a bit of that Photoshopping, before going on the No poster? Perish the thought, they are very close; it is obvious from that snatch of conversation from Nick's mike. Er - isn't it? Oh!

  • Comment number 11.

    I have no problem voting NO in the referendum and will be doing so not because of Nick Cleggs picture or wanting to 'send a message' to him or the Lib Dems either. Though if people want to vote NO to send a message then that's Ok with me.

    After all he was less tham complimentary about AV - something about a 'snivelilng little compromise' - so thats hardly a ringing endorsement is it?

    I am voting NO becase we have not been given a choice on what alternatives there are to FPTP. What about STV (like Ireland) or MMP (New Zealand) or even fewer but larger constituencies with multiple members elected by FTP (works for local councils across the realm)

    The good people of New Zealand are having a 'proper' referendum later this year at the same time as their general election (fixed 3 yr terms) - the 1st question on maintaining (or not) their current system (a mix of constituency and list MPs) and then a 2nd question on what an alternative prefered option is should Q1 result in a 'change' vote. There will then be a 2nd referendum in 2014 (both coincide with general elections) to choose between the current system and the top alternative in the 2011 referendum.,_2011

    As to election nights under AV I do see more arguments over 'valid' votes. At the moment it is 'is the intention clear' but I can see the party scrutiners looking down the list of preferences and deciding on validity based on later preferences than true initial validity. I have to admit seeing a Tory trying to have a paper rejected because the vote was listed as 1-2-3 rather then 3 'X' in a council election was rather amusing - especially as all three were tory votes. Maybe he didn't like being listed 3rd?


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