Monday, 14 March 2011


Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s speech at his party’s spring conference yesterday came over as dire on the television news – which focused on his revival of his buttock-clenchingly awful soundbite about “alarm clock Britain” – but it’s worth a look for the rubbish he talks about the alternative vote:
AV is a small change that makes a big difference. It keeps what people like about the current system, like constituency MPs. It simply puts people, rather than politicians, in charge. Makes MPs work harder for your vote. And helps end the scandal of safe seats for life…

It’s simple. If you want more duck houses: vote no. If you want more democracy: vote yes.

In seven weeks, the British people can sound the last post for first past the post. So we have seven weeks to get our message across:

If you want MPs to work harder for your vote, vote yes. If you want politicians to listen to whole country, not just swing voters in marginal seats: vote yes. If you want an end to jobs for life in safe seats, vote yes. If you want a new politics, vote yes.
It is difficult to take any of this airhead banality seriously. Nearly every one of Clegg's claims for AV is untrue. AV would do little or nothing to reduce the number of safe seats, and swing voters in marginal seats (or rather swing second-preference voters in marginal seats) would be just as important as they are now. The system would do nothing to make MPs work harder or indeed to encourage them not to abuse the parliamentary expenses system.

New politics? Pull the other one. It’s hardly surprising that Ed Miliband has refused to share a Yes to Fairer Votes platform with Clegg. As Miliband says, the deputy prime minister is the yes campaign’s biggest liability.

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