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Mayday Mayday: Electoral reform referendum

Nick Robinson | 09:48 UK time, Friday, 2 July 2010

Put 5 May 2011 in your diary.

David Cameron and Nick CleggIt may make or break Britain's first post-war coalition.

It's the date on which Nick Clegg has persuaded David Cameron to stage a referendum on changing the voting system.

Mr Cameron tried but failed to persuade his deputy that an early vote was an early risk for the coalition. He asked Mr Clegg to focus on the risk of the referendum being lost on the same day as the government is punished at the polls. Wouldn't many Lib Dems conclude, he asked, that there was no point remaining in the coalition?

Mr Clegg insisted that he needed an early win for the Liberal Democrats in the coalition - particularly after they, and not the Tories, have been blamed for the VAT-hiking Budget. He argued that holding the referendum on the same day as elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh assembly, and local councils in England will increase interest and turnout.

Next Tuesday, the cabinet will be asked to back Mr Cameron's decision to give in to Mr Clegg's demand.

There is, though, another vital vote to be won before 5 May. Getting the legislation through Parliament will be the first big test for the coalition whips.

Many Tory MPs believe that they were misled into backing a referendum on the alternative vote in the frantic coalition-building days which followed the general election. David Cameron told his party that Labour had promised Nick Clegg electoral reform without a referendum. Mr Clegg has since said that that is not true. This will give some the excuse they are looking for to rebel.

In order to woo his party, the Tory leader is linking the referendum to the Conservative manifesto promise to equalise the size of constituencies - which should give the Tories a few more seats.

However, this may give Labour an excuse to vote against the legislation if it wants to cause the coalition trouble.

How, you may wonder, could Labour oppose a referendum on AV when it was the first to propose it, and promised it in the Labour manifesto? The answer's simple. It's the opposition's job to oppose.

Labour's new leader will be elected before the big Commons votes on voting reform.
He or she may recall the example of John Smith. The arch pro-European made John Major's life hell when he refused to help him take on his rebels on the Maastricht Treaty.

"Mayday Mayday": trouble looms for the coalition.

Comments

Page 1 of 13

  • Comment number 1.

    So long as Labour never get in again I dont care!

  • Comment number 2.

    Tory's asking to give up their principles in order to remain in power? Can't see any argument from them there.

    Should this legislation go through, and the referendum given the go ahead, I expect to see a massive attempt to educate the population on the various ins and outs of each system. This is too important an issue to let people vote on personalities.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick

    One problem about your article. The HM Opposition whips would have to make sure all their MPs were:

    1. Physically present in the HoC, which is currently a big problem for one Gordon Brown Esquire

    2. Actually be bothered to vote, Brown was not the only absentee in Monday's vote on the VAT rise.

    Could you also provide a source for the conversation between Cameron and Clegg, or is it all supposition and innuendo?

  • Comment number 4.

    Another day, another "OH LOOK TROUBLE FOR THE COALITION" headline from a reporter desperate to stir the pot. Mayday Mayday - how witty Nick.

    Everyday these headlines and stories. I'm not disputing that voting reform is a contentious issue. Maybe it will prove divisive, but the tone of the article completely skews to the negative. Continually you have people akin to football supporters wanting their 'team' to come through at all cost. As a result this coalition is continually under fire - it's almost like people want it to fail, just so they can back to rooting for their side to beat the others.

    Britain will collapse. But hey, as long as it's either Red, Blue or Yellow when it does so people can say 'we knew the coalition would fail lolz', thats ok isn't it?

  • Comment number 5.

    "David Cameron told his party that Labour had promised Nick Clegg electoral reform without a referendum. Mr Clegg has since said that that is not true. This will give some the excuse they are looking for to rebel." Aaaah the new politics at work......

  • Comment number 6.

    This is a disaster for the Lib Dems. They will be campaigning in favour of AV, something they don't really believe in (it doesn't even pretend to be a proportional system), against their own coalition partners.

    The AV referendum will be defeated, not because people don't want reform, but because there will be a huge grassroots campaign by supporters of REAL voting reform against the whitewash that it represents.

  • Comment number 7.

    "The answer's simple. It's the opposition's job to oppose."

    It's sad that this is the way the Opposition role is perceived, when in fact it would be far more productive if they just limited themselves to finding the flaws in Governmental plans and policies.

    Imagine how much could be achieved in Parliament if the Opposition stopped indulging in pedantic and combative soundbites constructed purely to be seen to be opposing.

  • Comment number 8.

    As I understand it AV won't return the accurate proportion of MPs. In fact it appears to continue to favour the large parties as does the current system.

    If we're going to have PR let's have proper PR and get some new voices and ideas into Westminster.

    I won't be voting for AV. I won't even turn out.

    But here's an idea why don't they use this referendum as an opportunity to find what the nation thinks about other matters.

    How about a question on whether the people of England want their own English parliament or whether they want England balkanised into regions? We've never been consulted on devolution.

    And how about another question on how we feel about being in the EU?

    At least that would guarantee a decent turn out.

  • Comment number 9.

    I totally agree with Tom Dolan

  • Comment number 10.

    Sigh. More coalition-busting journalism. zzzzzzzz

  • Comment number 11.

    David Cameron told his party that Labour had promised Nick Clegg electoral reform without a referendum. Mr Clegg has since said that that is not true. Aaaah the new politics at work... Yes voting reform is an essential issue that should be put to a referendum in the country, but Nick Clegg cannot get away from the fact that his toadying to the Tories means that people in the country will now see a vote for reform as a vote for the coalition. He has clouded the issue and has been naive. It's a time bomb and his ego and desire for power has driven this.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thank you No 3 because I was unaware of Brown absenteeism - he should resign forthwith and allow a real socialist to oppose the coalition. I expect there will be plenty of trouble for Cleggmeron when the cuts start swingeing well before the vote on voting takes place.

  • Comment number 13.

    If the Lib Dems head for the hills after a loss they will all look like a bunch of whining children taking their bat and ball home for a good sulk. Good news if you are Red or Blue I suppose.

  • Comment number 14.

    The coalition would probably get more support from the voters if it didn't look like such a sellout of Liberal Principles,i know some pretty upset Lib Dems as i am sure we all do.
    I accept that a coalition must compromise but Clegg and Alexander look nothing more than yes men these days and i find it quite sickening.

  • Comment number 15.

    One thing you dont mention is how much all of this is going to cost, the obvious answer is millions!

    Is it hardly surprising that no one takes this Government seriously, preaching cost cuts and savings on the one hand but yet one of the first things they done was form another Quango and now an unwanted referendum.

    If the people of this country had wanted voting reform they would have voted for the parties supporting it at the election - oh thats right they did, and the party supporting it came third!

  • Comment number 16.

    People really should turn out and vote for AV. Even if it's not the proportional system that we want it is a stepping stone towards it. It will give the Liberals more of the seats they deserve (from an electoral viewpoint) and make coalitions more likely in the future as well as educating the public on the different electoral systems.

    If it all goes well and the coalition isn't a disaster then maybe we can see PR in the 2015-2020 parliament.

  • Comment number 17.

    If the Labour Party chooses to oppose an idea that they actually had proposed, just because they see their role to 'oppose' anything that whoever's in government suggests, they prove themselves unfit to ever govern again - as does any party which puts itself before the good of this nation and its citizens. No problem with different parties proposing different solutions to the same problem, but opposing an idea just because t'other lot is proposing it is no better than childish playground squabbling that the real world has grown out of long since.

  • Comment number 18.

    At 10:22am on 02 Jul 2010, englandrise wrote:How about a question on whether the people of England want their own English parliament

    As a Scotsman i totally agree that English voters should have their voice heard in an English Parliament, it is only fair when all other countries in the United Kingdom have some form of Devolution.
    I am not necessarily that the UK should be broken up but devolution doesn't seem to have done Scotland any harm, i am all for it!

  • Comment number 19.

    With the intended May 5th referendum on voting reform requiring a minimum level of turnout to be passed surely the Conserative voters (who arguably have the most to lose) will just abstain from voting altogether??

  • Comment number 20.

    This whole vote reform thing has been bumping around for years, so perhaps it should be settled once and for all.

    Tory MPs would be doing the country a disservice if they did not allow the country to decide this matter.

    I would suggest that there should a clause in the appropriate bill calling this referendum to outlaw any repeat referendum for a period of 10 years, so the issue will be kicked into the long grass.

    Also the Liberals, should the referendum not go their way, should show more principle than to walk away from the coalition. They are there in the national interest and should not take their ball off the playing field if the game goes against them.

  • Comment number 21.

    It is right to allow this vote at an early stage even if it causes problems for the coalition . The peole who want PR will not be happy with AV . However things will have to be done step by step . If there is a resounding No the PR is dead and on the Orther hand we get a resounding yes further reform may have to come in time . If the coalition falls apart due to this vote so be it as it will be a bad advert for PR

  • Comment number 22.

    I hear that in Australia a ballot under their AV is deemed to be spoiled if a voter only specifies as single preference instead of using all 5 preferences. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

    It would be quite ironic - dismal, even - if AV leads to an increased number of spoiled ballot papers.

    Nick Clegg just can't see what the Tories are doing to him. He's looking to me increasingly like a (short) one term wonder who will pay a very high price.

  • Comment number 23.

    An exaggerated storyline Mr Robinson when most Lib Dems concerns over AV are really about the 2nd vote when no other candidate is acceptable to the voter.

    AV voters should be able to tick a box on the voting form saying that there is no 2nd candidate that they would be happy voting for.

    If the votes in this 'no acceptable 2nd vote candidate' category exceed the votes for the leading 2nd candidate, then there should be no AV 2nd preference voting calculation for any 2nd election candidate.

    Simples ... all of the millions/billions £'s spent on our politicians and voting systems and simple issues like this are allowed to cause problems!

  • Comment number 24.

    Labour make me (painfully)laugh. Not only have they bankrupted us, given the bankers £billions without seemingly working out how we get it back, created a benefit society and broken umpteen promises (referendum on Europe being the main example)but they keep bleating on about "people didn't vote Lib Dem to get these policies". Well I'm sorry but they did because people that voted Lib Dem never expected a Lib Dem majority government. They voted Lib Dem either because they wanted to elect their candidate or because they wanted to stop someone else getting in. Lib Dem voters should therefore be pretty happy because for the first time in living memory, they have the leverage to at least get some of their policies adopted. Electoral reform must be pushed through before we lose sight of why we wanted it in the first place. I applaud Nick Clegg for sticking to his guns and pressing ahead when lesser men would have sat back and enjoyed the new trappings of power. The benefit of coalition is that the smaller party will constantly badger it's larger partner to press on with new ideas, new approaches and alternatives. This should keep Govt policy fresh and on it's toes at all times. Do you really want the alternative of Andy Millyballyband?!!

  • Comment number 25.

    In many ways this is the most puzzling aspect of the coalition agreement.

    AV is not PR. (AV+ might be but that doesn't seem to be on offer) It's allegedly the jewel in the crown of what the Lib Dems have achieved in the agreement yet it does not offer what they believe in.

    It will be campaigned against by those who don't want change or who do want real PR. It will come at a time when the coalition's honeymoon with the electorate will be well and truly over and dissatisfaction amongst pre-coalition Lib Dem supporters will be increasing substantially.

    The change will hammered as will the Lib Dems in the local elections on the same day.

    They will have sold out on their principles for no gain.

    There is a bok "the strange death of Liberal England" about them in the early 20thC. What we will see is the not so strange death of the Liberal (Dem)Party at the start of the 21stC

  • Comment number 26.

    It seems somewhat ironic that we are being offered only one alternative system and a not very good one at that.

    I want choice. This is a once in century opportunity and we shouldn't allow ourselves to be restricted like this.

    My support for the coalition is predicated on this single issue.

    In summary, too little, too far away.

  • Comment number 27.

    It seems quite obvious to me that the outgoing Labour goveernment knew exactly what it was doing and used the loss of the election to get rid of Gordon Brown and leave the country in a hopeless state for whoever followed them. They can now regroup, elect a new leader and wait until the hapless coalition fails before sweeping back with a large majority. Very cynical and opportunistic but also very clever. It is just a pity that the country has to suffer when it has obviously just wanted a change of direction and some hope. Some hope!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Perhaps a carefully calculated gamble?

    The ConDems want to get the referendum in quickly before the full effects of the cuts become visible. As time goes on the mantra that all the disasters are gordon brown's fault tends become less convincing. Once they have caused mass unemployment with their cuts, freed thousands of criminals from jail and provoked a crime wave etc etc, the opportunity may be gone.

    They need to rig the electoral system so that we can never get them out - no matter how we vote only Nick Clegg's vote will ever count.

    I may be voting in the referendum, but I have a horrible feeling that is the last vote it will ever be worth turning out for.

  • Comment number 29.

    This I think is a good move if members of the goverment take stock I think not only will it be the making of this government but how we do politics in the UK well done Deputy Prime Minister, lets hope next week the cabinet can agree on this move

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    Another kite-flying article -why not just treat the subject seriously and if you can't quote a source, then don't indulge with rumour - not what I expect from the BBC (but seem to get increasingly)?

  • Comment number 32.

    A shrewd move by Cameron. The effect of this announcement will ensure that this unlikely coalition will last for at least one year.

    The Tories thus have one year to be as nasty as they like knowing that the Lib Dem collaborators will accept any policy not matter how harmful it will be to the least privileged with the promise of a voting reform referendum in a years time.

  • Comment number 33.

    Great, bring it on. AV - love it. It'll give the new labour leader a good project to cut his teeth on. It'll bring the rats from the holes and it'll be great political theatre to see them at each others throats (the LibDems who have jobs and the LibDems who don't). It'll hopefully result in some hard soulsearching by the wider public about who they have in government. IT'LL BRING THEM DOWN TO SIZE. Can't wait. My mouth is watering already.

    As for poor 'I don't have a life anymore' I-hate-labour. I don't like the Tories but that's life and I am actually enjoying myself more now than when I had to endure their smug rhetoric prior to the LibDems shoring them up in government. All is not lost if you see the world in its wider sphere.

  • Comment number 34.

    16. At 10:53am on 02 Jul 2010, Tommy wrote:
    People really should turn out and vote for AV. Even if it's not the proportional system that we want it is a stepping stone towards it. It will give the Liberals more of the seats they deserve (from an electoral viewpoint) and make coalitions more likely in the future as well as educating the public on the different electoral systems.

    If it all goes well and the coalition isn't a disaster then maybe we can see PR in the 2015-2020 parliament.

    Only if the majority want it

    There is no guarantee that the AV referendum will be a yes

  • Comment number 35.

    23 nautonier
    "An exaggerated storyline Mr Robinson when most Lib Dems concerns over AV are really about the 2nd vote when no other candidate is acceptable to the voter."

    You don't have to use your alternative votes. You can give as many alternatives as you like or none "Simples!!!!"

    The Alternative vote
    ____________________

    If you vote against AV, it will be taken by the Tories as a vote against Electoral reform. A 'No' vote is a 'No' vote you can't tell the difference between a 'No I don't agree with electoral reform' and a 'No I want proper PR'. If you vote no you'll be helping to kick this issue into the long grass.

  • Comment number 36.

    I am hoping that the coalition will result in a more grown up type of politics. That of negotiation and give and take. One that realises that just because you voted for a particular party does not mean you support all of their proposals. It seems to be working thus far despite the endless attempts to knock it.

    We now need the reporting to follow. Surely the referendum should answer the question whether the British people want AV. If the answer is no it could mean we are happy with the current system or want more reform.

  • Comment number 37.

    Never mind criticising Labour for opposing voting reform for the dake of opposition - the only person I have heard propose this is Nick Robinson. What will be important to watch is how the Tories, who are deeply opposed to voting reform (except for constituency size which they have picked out because it gives them more seats), arrange to booby trap the referendum so they can avoid having to concede more ground than they need to. Given the Libdem experience in cabinet to date - shouldn't be too difficult.

  • Comment number 38.

    35. At 11:46am on 02 Jul 2010, DH Wilko

    Thank you for posting the link. Answers my earlier question.

    Can't say I like the Australian system. I don't want to be forced to register a vote for the BNP, say. I have to say that I do find the prospect of Tory haters being forced to vote for a Tory and Labour haters being forced to vote for a Labour candidate - or else having their vote disqualified - a tad amusing.

    It will be interesting to see exactly what question is posed on the ballot.

  • Comment number 39.

    This one is easy.
    We should have a referendum because that was the deal the coalition signed up to. Cameron has to deliver his part of the deal. I hope the Tories will vote in favour of the legislation.
    Then they are free to campaign for or against it as they wish.
    Irrespective of the outcome, the coalition should then continue - which was also part of the deal.
    But I am really concerned that the AV vote and equal constituency sizes will be on the same ballot. The latter was as far as I am aware not part of the agreement but even if it was we should be able to vote for each part separately.

  • Comment number 40.

    Paul @ 7

    Exactly my thought when I read this article. Summs up British polictics in a nutshell (including the hanger-ons such as the journalists), and clearly explains why we struggle to achive anything really worthwhile.

    Sad, very sad.

  • Comment number 41.

    One would assume that how the electorate view the success or otherwise of the coalition government policies will influence how people vote in the referendum.
    By next May we will all know how we are being affected by the deficit reduction program undertaken by the coalition(already 7 local authority carehomes are slated for closure in our area).
    This referendum on voting reform will in all probability be turned into a vote on the coalition government. The media will make it so, because that is how they work.
    That is the trouble with referendums, people don't necessarily vote on the question being posed but can be swayed by other considerations.
    In my case I believe we need electoral reform, the proposed Alernative Vote(AV) system can be as distorting in its result as First Past The Post(FPTP) , a truly proportional systen is Single Transferable Vote(STV)so if given the choice between FPTP,AV or STV, I would vote for STV. In this referendum I will vote for AV, mostly because it at least begins to address the ending of FPTP but equally because the Tories will campaign against it and I am philosophically opposed to everything the Tories stand for.
    A vote against AV is a vote for the status quo, we need to end majority governments based on a minority of the vote.

  • Comment number 42.

    "How, you may wonder, could Labour oppose a referendum on AV when it was the first to propose it, and promised it in the Labour manifesto? The answer's simple. It's the opposition's job to oppose.......recall the example of John Smith. The arch pro-European made John Major's life hell when he refused to help him take on his rebels on the Maastricht Treaty.

    "Mayday Mayday": trouble looms for the coalition."
    ========================================================

    This is exactly the approach to politics that people are protesting about, and why changes to our political system are necessary.

    I think the electorate would prefer to see politicians working together to address the problems and issues that the country faces, and not the childish, tribal, party political point scoring which your comments hint at.

    I understand that a successful coalition working well together is not the sexy news and reporting which failure and scandal, but we all need it to work - the current noises being made by Next Labour as it attempts to re-invent itself are a backward step, and no different to the NewUnite Labour.


  • Comment number 43.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Nick, the glass is always half empty for you isn't it.

    Look old bean, the sun's out and the weekend is nearly here. Think happy thoughts. It may never happen.

  • Comment number 45.

    41. At 12:32pm on 02 Jul 2010, LeftieAgitator wrote:

    " ..and I am philosophically opposed to everything the Tories stand for."

    I know what you're saying. In my case I am philosophically opposed to the colour mauve and will never, ever, ever, give my support to anything remotely connected with this colour.

  • Comment number 46.

    So let me get this right.

    Neither the Tories nor the Lib Dems campaigned for AV. However, they are going to propose a referendum on it.

    Labour did support AV, but they intend to oppose the legislation.

    What a funny country we live in.

  • Comment number 47.

    41 wrote

    In this referendum I will vote for AV, mostly because it at least begins to address the ending of FPTP but equally because the Tories will campaign against it and I am philosophically opposed to everything the Tories stand for.

    As the referendum is a Conservative referendum, and you are ideologically opposed to everything Conservative, then you should not be voting at all, as to vote is to join in a Conservative idea

    The opposite, would be not to vote

  • Comment number 48.

    It should not be left up to politicians to decide what form of voting system we have. The referendum should be simply do you favour a change in the voting system - yes or no. If the majority signal a yes then a further referendum with a multiple choice of systems could be arranged so that we the people decide what system the majority of us favour.

    And there are more choices than an AV or STV system - we should be looking overseas for successful examples.

    Cameron wants a referendum on changes to the EU constitution but is much more circumspect when it comes to our own constitution. This is much too important an issue to be left to those who benefit from the existing system.

  • Comment number 49.

    I really loved listing to the Tory buffoon on Today this morning trying to argue against electoral reform on the grounds that it discriminated against people who didn't have a second preference. The argument was totally incoherent, and he might as well have said "because the FPTP system is biased in favour of the Tories and that's the way we want it to stay".

    Under the AV system, he will have just as much right to use his second preference vote as anyone else. If he chooses not to, that's his right.

  • Comment number 50.

    Good News, I'm all for a referendum and lets decide one way or another on this. However, I would have liked to see a series of alternative methods not just AV which is not really proportional but is better than the system we have at the moment.
    I don't understand why a lot of people here think that when Nick (The POLITICAL Editor of the BBC) points out the political risks of a course of action they say he's anti coalition government. Because it's only the Government that can really get their measures through parliament the risks are the greatest for them hence more stories. After all this is a blog to express his analysis and talk around the major stories of the day. I for one like his format. It does not mean that I agree with him though!
    What the Labour Party did etc is pretty much irrelevant for this government to be honest -it provides a useful political narrative for explaining the Tories political decision to cut faster and deeper at the moment. However, by the election in 5 years time the 'mess Labour created' or 'the stopping of a depression' (depending on which economist you believe) will all be forgotton and the Government (as all Governments are) will be judged on its record. The electorate will ask the simple question are things better now than in 2010 when they either put the cross or their ranking of candidates on the ballot paper. At the moment no one really knows for sure the answer to that question -as 'events dear boy' are the most difficult thing to handle in politics.
    It will be interesting to see how the Tories and the LibDems handle this. The Labour leadership will campaign for the change of the voting system, in my view, (as Dave M has said today)

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    Good news a referendum on the day of the Scottish Government elections: voting in an election which uses a PR system and then voting on deciding to vote or against AV for the UK. Do I care what Nick wants? Not sure I do.

    #8
    But here's an idea why don't they use this referendum as an opportunity to find what the nation thinks about other matters.

    How about a question on whether the people of England want their own English parliament or whether they want England balkanised into regions? We've never been consulted on devolution.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Great idea, a policy shopping list! You should have your own parliament if it stops you bleating endlessly about Scots, Irish and Welsh people taking their own decisions.

    Parts of England have been consulted on Regional Assemblies: there was little interest!

  • Comment number 53.

    Here we go again...

    As the Electoral Reform Society states about AV:

    "If a candidate receives a majority of first place votes, he or she would be elected just as under the present system. However if no single candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the second choices for the candidate at the bottom are redistributed. The process is repeated until one candidate gets an absolute majority.
    The alternative vote is not actually a proportional system, but a majoritarian system."

    And the daft bit is that the second votes of many people may never be even examined.

    Suppose sagamix decided to run in Hampstead. Uses his charm, guile and tea-with-muffins, CTP, grass-roots approach to attract 49.9% of the first votes. Now (assuming that somebody can actually do the maths), you start to look for a "majority" by adding the second votes of the least wanted candidate to other people's pile.
    Still no winner?
    Then just keep on redistributing second choices from other losers.
    Eventually, you could get 50.1% of apparent "backers" for the person who was effectively trounced by sagamix...
    But the second choices of the 49.9% of the voters who backed saga don't even get looked at.
    How is that more "democratic"?

    We know it's not "proportional" so what is the point?

    I could envisage a modified AV I'd accept much more readily.
    You know, where if there is no majority, then EVERY second choice is rolled into the election right away. So everybody's first and second choices are treated equally. Still no majority, then check the third choices of ALL voters, not just starting with the real beaten-up candidates.

    AV hits the people who did best the hardest, because their supporters second choices get looked at so much later. Nonsense really!

    By the way, Mods, I'm definitely not having a pop at saga. But I feel he's on the brink of being a candidate.
    And, with boundaries likely to be redrawn, I rather expect Hampstead to fall within the Campo Correcto constituency. So he'd have a head start!

  • Comment number 54.

    Labour will definitely try to scupper the reform plans, and they'll do it out of sheer spite. They don't care if something's right or wrong, they'll just do whatever they can to make the tories' lives difficult. Why else would they have adopted a scorched earth policy in the months leading up to the election? Their approach in early 2010 seems to have been "let's burn as much money as we can; that'll put a spanner in the works for those nasty tories".

    Well, I know who I see as the "nasty" party, and it's not the party who are trying to deal with the horrific mess that labour left for the tories.

    Also, labour have a history of going back on their manifesto promises. How many other referenda have they gone back on in the past? I've lost count. The "we changed the name of the treaty so it doesn't count anymore" argument doesn't hold much water in my view.

    Also, any reform of the voting system would inevitably leave labour with less seats because at the moment the system is heavily skewed in their favour.

    Since labour have been in power, when you read the "grass roots" labour comments in all the elections it's been the same, it's either been:
    1. "The recent changes made by the labour government won't increase our vote quite as much as it did last time."
    or:
    2. "The recent changes made by the labour government will increase our vote by more than last time, but that increase is partially ofset by more people hating us than last time."

    Labour won't vote for reform here; they'll actively campaign/vote against it, and they'll use every illogical argument they can find, just like they did with the Lisbon "ha ha! we just changed its name, you mugs" Treaty.

  • Comment number 55.

    its pointless to argue that the people of this country dont want a change in the voting system when: 1 we have an electoral system which ensures that parties advocating change are under represented 2 there is consequently little discussion of the issue in the media 3 the proposed referendum purposely avoids finding out what the public really think by denying them the many alternatives to AV and FPTP

  • Comment number 56.

    Like most of the blogs I don't think the referendum in its watered down version will get passed in Parliment.Proposional representation has been kicked into the long grass M.P.s seem to be burying their heads in the sand once again. Do we have to take to the streets to get a fairer system why cannot the M.P.s join us in the 21st century. The House of Lords is traditional and out of date, why not put that to the vote? all it is a retirement club for the out of work M.P.'s. Did someone say the public services have to take cuts ? Why not Parliment, both houses could be reduced to more cost effective numbers and laws could make the statue book quicker and members bills would not be talked out and lost.

  • Comment number 57.

    Fair comment, Mr P (42). Trust you'd be saying the same if it were a Lib Lab coalition.

  • Comment number 58.

    "Sigh. More coalition-busting journalism." - 10

    Nonsense.

    Nick's aim is to give an insight into the politics of the various issues, and he does it well.

    He treads a fine line of impartiality, and does that quite well too (although I sense he's an instinctive tory).

    Course, people of either extreme discern non existent bias and find fault - but this says more about them than about the blog.

    (that okay, Nick?)

  • Comment number 59.

    The coalition's number one priority is sorting out the economy by acting in the national interest. Falling out over voting reform shouldn't get in the way of that objective. If it does, then the national interest wil be set aside.

  • Comment number 60.

    "Imagine how much could be achieved in Parliament if the Opposition stopped indulging in pedantic and combative soundbites constructed purely to be seen to be opposing."

    @ 7.

    Mmm, I guess. Can't be too grown up and rational though, get taken advantage of. Look at me.

    Anyway let's see if Lab do oppose AV - if I were in their shoes I'd be inclined to back it.

  • Comment number 61.

    The idea of more portional representation...what a unique idea. This may have a negative impact on the ruling class and unless they can devise a change that still gives them great advantage it will be a real battle and the campaign will be scare tactics and misrepresentations. It will be fun and will probably damage the Tory more as they will be the ones undermining the idea that the people might have some say in all of this. As they continue to give money to bankers the people might want a greater say as they are taxed to support the wealthy and assume their debts.

  • Comment number 62.

    If the Lib Dems didn't want a referendum on whether the UK should adopt the AV system, surely they could have told Hague where to stuff it when he made them the offer?

  • Comment number 63.

    'How, you may wonder, could Labour oppose a referendum on AV when it was the first to propose it, and promised it in the Labour manifesto? The answer's simple. It's the opposition's job to oppose.'


    Yes, that is simple. What we've come to expect from the lobby and parliament.

  • Comment number 64.

    54 getridofgordonnow

    Have you been in a coma? I'd suggest you go to your settings in the top right corner of the page and change the name that appears on screen "gordongotridofnow" maybe? Your username will stay the same. So if it it is getridofgordonnow you'll still have to enter that as username.

  • Comment number 65.

    49. At 1:19pm on 02 Jul 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:
    I really loved listing to the Tory buffoon on Today this morning trying to argue against electoral reform on the grounds that it discriminated against people who didn't have a second preference. The argument was totally incoherent, and he might as well have said "because the FPTP system is biased in favour of the Tories and that's the way we want it to stay".
    Under the AV system, he will have just as much right to use his second preference vote as anyone else. If he chooses not to, that's his right."

    But, Disgusted, his second preference vote may never be checked...
    And that, to me, seems wrong!

  • Comment number 66.

    Turning to the issue of 'which voting system?' Arguably the governance effects of AV are superior to those of PR.
    PR sounds more democratic, but actually it awards the balance of power in Parliament to minority parties. So that, on the critical issues, it's the minority that rules. That consequence is most evident in Israel where about 70% of electors want a negotiated peace, but the coalitions elected by PR are unable to conduct such a policy: minority parties won't support negotiations.
    Moreover, the PR system relies upon a Party List system that gives the Parties' whips much greater power over their MPs. That can squash just the sort of independent minded MPs we should be seeking.
    What the alternative vote (AV) system would do is create many more marginal constituencies where the elected MP has to be more sensitive to the opinions of a wide range of electors and interests, rather than just to her own party's supporters. It's notable that MPs in marginal seats were less likely to have fiddled their expenses; they appear to work harder too.
    For my own part, I'm sceptical of the democratic virtues of PR and attracted by either AV or single transferable vote system: we need constituency MPs that have, at once, both a strong interest in securing votes from a wide range of electors, and a strong incentive to work hard and honestly.

  • Comment number 67.

    53 fairlyopenmind

    What about all the large number of votes from close 2nd places who's votes are currently thrown away? If someone wins on 35% of the vote then 65% didn't vote for them and their votes are discarded. People also have to vote for second best. Those who finished last place usually have much fewer voters. It's unlikely they'll influence the outcome much, If they do, it will be really close to 50% anyway so it doesn't really matter. It matters about as much as you not understanding this comment.

  • Comment number 68.

    re:
    22. At 11:02am on 02 Jul 2010, worldofsport
    23. At 11:05am on 02 Jul 2010, nautonier
    35. At 11:46am on 02 Jul 2010, DH Wilko

    This is a critical point, because there MUST be an option where, if the new voting system is brought-in, you are never forced to specify all your "alternatives" but where your main vote (and your alternatives that you *did* specify) are still counted.

    For example, say I want to vote for the tory, and I want to give the libdem my second vote, but I don't want to specify labour as my 3rd vote because I'm actively voting against labour.

    Or, I might want to vote libdem but not give the tory candidate any extra votes should it come to a second round in which case I'd refuse to use any of my alternative votes.

    But if there are only 3 candidates (tory, libdem, and labour) and if I'm forced to specify all my alternatives in order for my ballot not to be considered "spoiled" then I'd be forced to increase the vote for someone that I was specifically voting against.

    This MUST be an option, and it also MUST be clearly indicated on the ballot paper as an option (ie a massive notice at the top saying "YOU DON'T HAVE TO INDICATE ALL ALTERNATIVES - YOUR BALLOT WILL STILL COUNT EVEN IF YOU HAVE NOT SPECIFIED ALL ALTERNATIVES.")

    If that's not applied, then I'm not voting because my vote would inevitably increase the vote for someone that I would have specifically wanted to vote against.

    My "alternative" vote should never be forced upon me to vote for someone that I specifically want excluded from power just so that my main vote can count.

    If they do take this into account and allow your "alternatives" to be optional, then I would never use/tick my "alternatives" anyway because, by definition, I don't want them to get in if they're not my first choice.

    This AV system is a horribly bad voting system no matter how you look at it, because it means that quite often you'll get the person with the smaller number of votes gain power, and the person who actually got the most votes will lose. Surely having the person with the most votes losing is NOT the way to go?

    Even if the "allow ballots with no alternatives-selected" logic is adopted, once people realise that the person who got the most votes is quite often going to lose the election in favour of someone who got less votes, I'd hope that they'd vote against such a system and tell the politicians to go back to the drawing board and work out a system that's fairer.

    I'd rather my vote was "irrelevant" (eg that in a mostly tory constituency my vote for the libdems or labour would effectively be wasted) than the person who got most votes in my consituency didn't become MP.

    The rights of the majority of the voting public in my area are more important than my own personal wish to try and shoe-horn a loser into power.

  • Comment number 69.

    It is quite clear that some in the Tory ranks consider the Lib-Dems as a bit of an inconvenience, to be got rid of asap. Certainly their friends in the right-wing press are doing their best.(Funny how they've gone for Laws and then,less sucessfully, Hulme...both Lib-Dems.)

    The polls look good for them at the moment...and bad, bad, bad for the Lib-Dems.

    Perhaps some Tories would consider going to the polls again sooner rather than later...get back in with a working majority before the pain of their policies kick in ?

    It may be that today's announcement has effectively put an end-date on the coalition anyway.If the ref. result is against AV many Lib-Dems(apart from the handful with their bums on cabinet seats) will wonder what the point of it all is...plummeting support, no political gain etc etc and begin to make their feelings known.

    As my Jack Russell (Ted) pointed out when he saw Dave and Nick on that lawn in May...it will never last, they've got nothing in common you know.

  • Comment number 70.

    50. At 1:25pm on 02 Jul 2010, wirralwesleyan wrote:

    I don't understand why a lot of people here think that when Nick (The POLITICAL Editor of the BBC) points out the political risks of a course of action they say he's anti coalition government

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It will inevitably be a divisive area. However as POLITICAL editor of the BBC, I would have expected a bit more of a restrained and balanced perspective than "MAYDAY MAYDAY: TROUBLE LOOMS FOR THE COALITION".

    Equally, as poster 42 StrictlyPickled notes, you would wish that a supposedly educated modern man would want to stop promoting the

    "The answer's simple. It's the opposition's job to oppose." view of the world

    If anyone on here, Nick or those in a position of being an MP honestly believe that you have to oppose those on a different side of a room to you 'just because' you wear a different coloured rosette, then forget running the country - you don't deserve to referee a school slanging match (which incidentally isn't that far from PMQ's as it is)

  • Comment number 71.

    #41 Leftie Agitator wrote:
    "I am philosophically opposed to everything the Tories stand for"

    No you're not. You're emotionally opposed.

  • Comment number 72.

    61. At 2:23pm on 02 Jul 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:
    The idea of more portional representation...what a unique idea. This may have a negative impact on the ruling class


    Why? even with proportional representation you can only elect a member of the ruling class. Or do you think that Lib Dem members of parliment say, since they are expected to benefit most, are somehow less 'ruling class' than the conservatives? I'd like to see the justification for that! It's the system that makes them ruling class, not the subtle differences of their policies and changing the way we vote won't effect the underlying system one jot.

  • Comment number 73.

    62. At 2:31pm on 02 Jul 2010, Craig Miller wrote:
    If the Lib Dems didn't want a referendum on whether the UK should adopt the AV system, surely they could have told Hague where to stuff it when he made them the offer?

    A rather interesting approach to negotiating!!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    So we can have a referendum when it suits the political class on a subject that's OK for them.

    But won't give the PEOPLE (you know those oiks your supposed to represent) a referendum on things they really want.

    How about :-

    1. Staying in the EU or not
    2. Restoration of the death penalty as an ultimate sanction
    3. Democratic rights for the English people with an English parliament.

    Not a chance in hell of us having a vote on these things, the political class might not like the results.

  • Comment number 75.

    This is all well and good; but unless there is also a 'none of the above' option on ballot papers what exactly is the point of the proposed system?

    If we want 'electoral reform' we might as well do it properly. You should be able to vote for one person, and have 'none of the above' as your second choice, or even vote for 'none of the above' as your first choice and someone else as a second choice; or just 'none of the above'. That way you could register a desire for 'none, but if someone has to win you'd prefer it to be X'; 'none'; or 'X and if he can't win then nobody'. If none of the above' was the winner, the election would start again. Eventually only the people that really cared enough would be voting; and it would encourage everyone to get more involved in politics.

    And Cameron lied to his party to get them to vote for joining the Lib Dems, did he? Who would have thought.

  • Comment number 76.

    #65, fairlyopenmind15:

    "But, Disgusted, his second preference vote may never be checked...
    And that, to me, seems wrong!"


    Maybe it won't, but only because his first preference vote counts for something. So he's hardly disadvantaged.

  • Comment number 77.

    "'Mayday Mayday': trouble looms for the coalition." (Nick Robinson)

    You could say that. Those electors voting in the Scottish general election on the day which is apparently to be proposed for the ConDem administration's constitutional referendum in May next year will in part be delivering a verdict on the blocking of the SNP government's proposed constitutional referendum, which would have been held by then (November 30th) if it were not going to be opposed by the anglo-unionist parties, not least the Lib Dems and the Tories.

    Scotland certainly wants a referendum, but, as it is already free of the first-past-the-post voting system so far as its own parliament's elections are concerned, the voting system for the legislature in England, while not unworthy of its attention while Scotland is still shackled to the UK state, is not the constitutional issue on which electors in the northern kingdom are generally most desirous of expressing a view, I venture to suggest.

    No less than the anglo-parliamentary AV issue, fiscal autonomy, devolution max and independence (for all of which there is known to be substantial support in Scotland) are the issues upon which Scottish electors would be voting in a referendum, if the Disunited Kingdom were the democracy that it is cracked up to be.

  • Comment number 78.

    3#

    "Could you also provide a source for the conversation between Cameron and Clegg, or is it all supposition and innuendo?"

    Theres been a lot of that recently. Since Brown was kicked out, in fact. Maybe the lobby aint what it used to be, with Charlie and Bad Al not around anymore...

  • Comment number 79.

    67. At 2:52pm on 02 Jul 2010, DH Wilko wrote:
    53 fairlyopenmind

    What about all the large number of votes from close 2nd places who's votes are currently thrown away? If someone wins on 35% of the vote then 65% didn't vote for them and their votes are discarded. People also have to vote for second best. Those who finished last place usually have much fewer voters. It's unlikely they'll influence the outcome much, If they do, it will be really close to 50% anyway so it doesn't really matter. It matters about as much as you not understanding this comment.

    DH W,
    I sort of understand your comment. You know, clinging on with my fingernails.

    I rather think I suggested that, in the event of no candidate winnng a majority, EVERY second choice/preference should be taken into consideration.

    So if you (or I) voted for somebody but would accept somebody else as a second choice then your or my second preference votes would be counted.

    AV means that the people whose votes made their candidate the biggest gainer of votes (but not in a majority) may NEVER have their second choices taken into account.

    How democratic is that?

    It has nothing to do with proportional representation which I could tolerate.

    Look at the maths, DH.
    If somebody gained 35% of the vote, the second choice/preference of 35% of the people may never be checked, because the preference of people whose candidates did less well will be looked at and could be reattributed to "deliver" a winner.
    So the second choices/preference of 35% will NOT be taken into account.

    But it matters about as much as you understanding this comment.

  • Comment number 80.

    69

    I think you need to have a man to dog chat with Ted

    Clegg and Cameron have much in common

    They both had an outstanding education, and were both very clever, particularly Cameron

    They are both Liberals in the sense of individual freedoms

    Both strongly dislike Brown

    Both keen to sort out by radical reform all the stuff that has been stuffed under the carpet for 13 years and longer

    Ted needs to look at the broader picture, which is difficult when you are chasing rabbits

  • Comment number 81.

    Gordongotridofnow@68
    "For example, say I want to vote for the tory, and I want to give the libdem my second vote, but I don't want to specify labour as my 3rd vote because I'm actively voting against labour."

    You mark Conservative with 1 and Lib Dem with 2 and leave the rest blank.

    Conservative | 1
    Labour |
    Lib dem | 2
    Green |
    Socialist |
    Monster Rlp | (3?)

  • Comment number 82.

    On the face of it, to those who don't understand, AV might seem a fairer system than 'first-past-the-post' because the successful candidate has to get more than 50% of the votes. But it's not quite that simple....

    Under FPTP, the largest group of voters get their first choice. Under AV the largest group get their second choice.

    AV is really a 'second-past-the-post' system. You don't get who you really want - just who you think would be the least worst second option.

    Obviously, Tory or Labour voters will never put each other as their second choice. However, both might vote Lib Dem as their number 2 because it's not quite as bad as the alternative.

    AV is nothing more than a con trick to boost Lib Dem votes.

  • Comment number 83.

    81. At 4:55pm on 02 Jul 2010, DH Wilko wrote:

    Gordongotridofnow@68
    "For example, say I want to vote for the tory, and I want to give the libdem my second vote, but I don't want to specify labour as my 3rd vote because I'm actively voting against labour."

    You mark Conservative with 1 and Lib Dem with 2 and leave the rest blank.

    Conservative | 1
    Labour |
    Lib dem | 2
    Green |
    Socialist |
    Monster Rlp | (3?)


    I think the "critical" issue being identified here is that under some implementations of AV (eg Australia) a voter must rank all candidates or have their ballot paper considered as spoiled.

    Under the Australian implementation your suggestion of ranking two candidates and leaving the rest blank would lead to your ballot paper being considered as spoiled and thus not counting at all.

    I want to know what implementation of AV we are going to have a referendum on.

  • Comment number 84.

    There’s a hint in the air that if the referendum vote in the country fails, the LibDems would leave the coalition. It would be very dangerous for them to suggest this. Time and again we’ve seen, in the rest of Europe, people voting against a referendum as a way of registering a protest which has nothing to do with the question put before them. In May next year, the government will be extremely unpopular (let’s be honest, any government would be, given the state of the nation), and people will be tempted to vote ‘no’ to the AV proposal just to encourage the LibDems to quit the government, thereby effectively forcing a general election. To remove the temptation and to help focus minds on the issue of voting reform, the LibDems must make it clear that whatever the outcome of the referendum, they will stick to the coalition agreement.

  • Comment number 85.

    82. Quite.

    One man, one vote.
    One vote for one party.
    I voted Green, didn't want Labour, Tory, to a lesser extent, the LibDems. Why would I want to put a cross next to any other than the party I choose. That's tactical voting, which can lead to unpredictable results.
    The problem is surely more about a population of 500 given the same representation as a population of 5000?

    I agree that someone getting elected with less than say 35% of the vote is not ideal... but is it any fairer than someone with 30% of the vote beating them?

    The last election had a 'center left' majority, albeit a narrow one. Not enough for a coalition majority. Surely it should be up to those parties closer to an alliance to work out a deal in marginals before the election, not scramble around afterwards.

  • Comment number 86.

    79 fairly..

    "I sort of understand your comment. You know, clinging on with my fingernails."

    LOL!
    Fair enough.

    Its an instant run off vote, a bit like a leadership contest where you vote for each possible round in advance. Those who are last, are out of the contest and their 2nd preferences counted. If their 2nd preference has been eliminated in a previous round, their 3rd preference is counted. In a leadership contest you can assume that you'll still vote for who you voted for in the other rounds. So I don't think there's much point counting the alternative votes of the first place party. Its quite complicated on their end.

  • Comment number 87.

    84. At 5:24pm on 02 Jul 2010, davidmelamedoff wrote:
    There’s a hint in the air that if the referendum vote in the country fails, the LibDems would leave the coalition.

    Really?

    Where?

    Nick Robinson says so and .....

    It is just 'paper talk'

  • Comment number 88.

    81. At 4:55pm on 02 Jul 2010, DH Wilko wrote:
    Gordongotridofnow@68
    "For example, say I want to vote for the tory, and I want to give the libdem my second vote, but I don't want to specify labour as my 3rd vote because I'm actively voting against labour."
    You mark Conservative with 1 and Lib Dem with 2 and leave the rest blank.
    Conservative | 1
    Labour |
    Lib dem | 2
    Green |
    Socialist |
    Monster Rlp | (3?)


    So, you have a pre-view of the proposed legislation DH Wilko?

    Are you authorised to release it?

    And are you sure you can mark Monster Rlp with (3?)

    Not sure the question mark would be allowed! Probably be a spoiled ballot...

    The simplistic AV being proposed does not take into account EVERY voter's second choices. That's what bugs me. You start from the real losers and work up. So the second choices of the most committed voters may never be looked at.

    As I said previously, if you or I were among the people who voted 49% in favour of one candidate, but the second votes of all the other candidates were taken into account to deliver a "winner", while our second choices were never taken into account, wouldn't you think it was a bit odd? Seems really stupid to me!

    Take EVERY second preference into account and it would make a bit more sense. Allow the second preferences of the people whose candidates were really beaten up to carry more weight? I don't understand the democratic benefit...

    Simple AV as propsed is, in my opinion, a very bad way of trying to determine who is most acceptable as a parliamentary candidate.

    I could tolerate other options. "Simple" AV does nothing to adjust the weight of everybody's vote. And it ain't proportional. Just a bit odd.

    Doesn't that seem a bit silly?

    BTW, I'd much prefer an MP to have a real majority. People actively endorsing a candidate. (Look at the French system. If you can't win on the first vote, you have to go back for a re-run. Even if they hold their noses, as many French people did when re-electing Chirac...)

  • Comment number 89.

    It mentions the Australian system in this article I linked to earlier

    Alternative voting

    They are required to rank all candidates. Don't know if that will happen here though. I hope not. The lower down you put your hated party the less likely it is to be counted at all.

    Fairly...

    If you are at 49% of the electorate you are 1% away from it being impossible for any other party to win the seat. You are almost certain to win the instant 2nd round of the vote. Why would they want their second preferences counted if their first preference is in the lead?

  • Comment number 90.

    46. At 1:01pm on 02 Jul 2010, hmcynic wrote:
    So let me get this right.

    Neither the Tories nor the Lib Dems campaigned for AV. However, they are going to propose a referendum on it.

    Labour did support AV, but they intend to oppose the legislation.

    What a funny country we live in.


    Ha-ha? Or pass the Webley?

    If you are right (and the lack of an immediate counter leads one to suspect you are), it's the kind of commentary that one might have hoped for from our political reporters, revealing the mindset of all parties complicit, as opposed to focussing on speculating in what one presumes is a fruitful area for some.

    This coalition needs constant and careful monitoring, just like the last shambles, but giving the latter all they seem still to enjoy after the achievements of the last 13 years seems a celebration of incompetence and hypocrisy that is... hard to credit.

  • Comment number 91.

    I would expect it to be AV, with the option of just marking a 1 for your first choice

  • Comment number 92.

    Kevinb @ 80.

    Ted was of course alluding to the two parties as a whole not merely the individual backgrounds and personal convictions of the two leaders. He is fully aware that we elect a party, not an induvidual...a notion which seems to be forgotten by many when speaking of the coalition in power, or indeed when criticising the previous administration.

    He does, therefore, see the broader picture in that he realises the coalition is an arrangement between two political parties, not two induviduals.

    Rabbits he views with extreme prejudice.

  • Comment number 93.

    Achievements of the last 13 years?

    Yes, that £906bn National Debt is a classic

    Who can forget the Dr Kelly cover-up....soon to be uncovered

    That all time classic......Deficit £156bn

    Real achievement. the country on it's knees

    Mind you, it is progress, after the last LAbour Government, the country was on life support, so progress of sorts

  • Comment number 94.

    92

    Good stuff

  • Comment number 95.

    86. At 5:39pm on 02 Jul 2010, DH Wilko wrote:
    79 fairly..
    "I sort of understand your comment. You know, clinging on with my fingernails."
    LOL!
    Fair enough.

    Its an instant run off vote, a bit like a leadership contest where you vote for each possible round in advance. Those who are last, are out of the contest and their 2nd preferences counted. If their 2nd preference has been eliminated in a previous round, their 3rd preference is counted. In a leadership contest you can assume that you'll still vote for who you voted for in the other rounds. So I don't think there's much point counting the alternative votes of the first place party. Its quite complicated on their end.

    DH W,
    Odd thing is that, in a leadership contest, people have their votes counted again when one or more candidates drop out. So if the leader I wanted dropped out or was eliminated, my vote would still count in another effort trying to select somebody else.
    All I'm, saying is that simple AV as proposed doesn't allow EVERYBODY'S second opinion to be taken into account.

    It actually means that the people who voted for the most popular/ most chosen candidate don't have their second choice preference taken into account at the same "worth" as the folk whose votes went to less wanted candidates.

    And, as I suggested much earlier, the 49.9% of voters who endorsed sagamix could find he didn't win a seat and the people who voted for him didn't even have their second choices considered. So some smuck crept in who didn't even understand the pleasure of tea and muffins...
    And he/she could have started with 15% of the first preference votes!

    All a bit odd.

    BTW I don't live on the keyboard. There's a response I made earlier. All good fun though, isn't it?

    I sort of hope that, in time, I'll get a janitor's job at Campo Correcto!

    Just for the fun of realising how everybody can't write that.

  • Comment number 96.

    Big problem with AV and more so with PR you end up with successive coalitions, government nobody actually votes for...a stirring of the political porridge to no-ones taste.

    Therefore, the electorate becomes more disengaged with the process, in the knowledge that, whichever party they vote for, the result will not fully represent their political outlook.

    It also gives parties the excuse to abandon election promises...need I mention VAT...


    Just a few thoughts on the possible down side...

  • Comment number 97.

    96

    Behave yourself!

    There was no VAT promise

    ALL THREE parties refused to rule out a rise...

    Stop being naughty....

  • Comment number 98.

    96

    You made me so angry with your inaccurate VAT comment, I forgot to say that the point on compromise politics is a good one

    I think the tail can indeed wag the dog

    Not something Ted would enjoy

  • Comment number 99.

    Due to my work on The Parliamentary Constituencies of England, prior the the last General Election, I gained a reasonable insight into the effort that the Boundaries Commission had put into recasting the English constituencies, such that most have between 68 and 72 thousand voters, with the odd exception such as The Isle of Wight.

    I think that is fine for the HoC with the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MP's purged, leaving the English with their own Parliament.

    The HoL is currently a complete disgrace to democracy.

    Again only people representing England should be elected to that chamber, possibly via two 'Lords' per English County.

    Will it ever happen?

    Well, we English are good at dreaming but not so good at doing.

  • Comment number 100.

    99

    Wrote

    Well, we English are good at dreaming but not so good at doing.

    Speak for yourself....

    Don't count me in that comment, I am actually good at doing, thank you very much

 

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