In the end, and very reluctantly, I’ve gone for ‘No’ on the Alternative Vote.
I truly wanted to be progressive, and it’s really tempting to hit the Tories where it hurts. But over the past few weeks I’ve realised that ‘Yes’ is a tokenistic sop likely to produce even more of the second-best, as it seems so often to do both in other countries and in UK party political leadership elections across the board. Not much positive progress anywhere there.
So, No it is for me with the present proposals, much as I wish it might be different.
But, though I tried resolutely not to consider this whilst deciding how to vote on the Alternative Vote, the real hazards I guess lie in the weeks that follow the vote, rather than in the vote itself.
We all ‘know’ that the ConDem coalition will be placed under great strain if Nick Clegg fails to get his Yes, just as we know that David Cameron will have problems if the No vote is lost…. And then, whatever the vote, we shall find ourselves faced with a Tory proposition to reduce the number of MPs in Westminster in a way which – surprise! – is thought to favour the Conservatives.
How will the LibDems respond to this, especially if they lose the vote on AV?
LibDem MPs will be aware that the Conservative position of reducing MP numbers may hit them, as well as Labour; and presumably they will perceive support for the proposed reduction in seats as (LibDem) turkeys voting for (a Tory) Christmas.
Do LibDem MPs have the common sense to see, yet again, that the way forward is to cross the floor to Labour? That would be a win-win:
The Tories could be beaten on their excessive reduction in MPs seats, the hideous, unmandated assault on public services could be ameliorated, and sitting LibDem MPs going to Labour would with honour probably (as Labour) keep their otherwise-lost seats after the ensuing general election.
I hope someone on the Labour side is working away diligently on this. A great many ordinary people’s jobs and well-being depend on it.