News in today from The Guardian, who feature an opinion poll commissioned from ICM which again (& still contradicting recent YouGov findings) show the Yes to AV vote ahead of the No campaign. This poll, unlike others, uses the exact wording that will be used on the referendum voting papers next May. Here’s the headline poll result-
Yes (adopt AV system) – 44%
No (keep FPTP system) – 38%
undecided/won’t vote – 18%
The poll also sheds light on how those who identify themselves as supporters of the main parliamentary parties are likely to vote in the referendum, & also some variations between different areas of the UK-
Among present Labour supporters 47% back AV and 41% first-past-the-post. Among Lib Dems 75% back AV. A majority of Conservative supporters are against, with 30% backing AV and 57% against.
Support for AV is higher in the north and Scotland than in the south of England. Variations in turnout, if the vote is held as planned in May alongside local and devolved elections, could be crucial.
The article also centres upon party political issues, highlighting the desire from the Labour Yes campaign that Deputy PM & Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg should keep a low profile during the campaign- on one level I can completely understand this as his personal status & integrity of his parliamentary party has plummeted in recent months, & this breeds the fear that his strong public identification with voting reform could kill of this much needed reform for a long time.
My ideal situation would be the Yes campaign identified by a broad range of prominent politicians from across the various parties that support the upgrade to AV, including the likes of Clegg but also prominently featuring Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas & Nigel Farage to show the support this reform has across the political spectrum. We also shouldn’t forget ourselves & our friends throughout the UK that are forming the grassroots campaign for Fairer Votes, because despite the mainstream press concentrating on the party-political aspects of the campaign, most of us represent the bulk of the voting population who aren’t members or activists for any one party – something which so far has not been apparent at all in the No 2 AV campaign. It’s worth bearing this in mind because, as the Guardian article states, the No campaign are determined to undermine the Yes campaign as a purely Lib Dem project, as one of their attempts to smear us-
The no campaign, trying to cash in on the junior coalition partner’s current unpopularity, is claiming its opposing group is largely dominated by Liberal Democrats. Jessica Asato (a senior member of the Labour Yes to AV campaign) denied this, saying Labour supporters held key posts in the yes campaign, including as director of communications and chief field officer.
A dossier released by the no campaigners claims five out of six of the yes team’s steering committee have worked for or “explicitly supported” the Lib Dems in the last 12 months, and that at least half of their grassroots co-ordinators are former Lib Dem candidates, councillors and activists.
This from the No campaign that until the recent (& somewhat back-firing) inclusion of Labour old-stagers such as John Prescott & Margaret Beckett was decidedly Conservative-dominated, to the extent that the only party conference the No 2 AV team attended in the autumn was the Conservatives. The Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, along with the Electoral Reform Society & Unlock Democracy were at the Green Party, Lib Dem, Labour & even the Conservatives.
We all know from meetings & various other grassroots events we’ve been to &/or involved with that our campaign is far from Lib Dem dominated- but ultimately the issue isn’t about party positions at all: it’s about what is best for giving voters real choices & a bit more power at election time.
You can read the full Guardian article here.
Here’s Politicalbetting.com‘s take on the latest poll findings.