AV referendum to be announced next week & held in May

Left Foot Forward understands from a source close to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that the timetable for the promised referendum on AV will be announced next week, and that the referendum itself is most likely to be scheduled to coincide with the May 2011 Local Elections. Many on the Left believe that success in the referendum is crucial to the possibility of a more pluralist and supportive political culture on the Left (and indeed across British politics in general); see my article here for example.

Ballot-boxThe three frontrunners in the Labour leadership race are all unequivocally in favour of the alternative vote; Diane Abbott and Andy Burnham, however, have not yet pledged their full support. The Liberal Democrats, naturally, will support it. Some in the Green Party seem uncertain whether or not to join them in compromising and backing AV, rather than holding out for PR.

But a motion going to Green Party Conference this September proposed and seconded by Jean Lambert MEP and myself and also signed by Deputy Leader Adrian Ramsay will (if passed) commit the Party to supporting AV, on various grounds, including that it largely eliminates tactical voting and the ‘wasted vote’ argument.

Yesterday, the New Statesman reported Tory leader David Cameron was “considering” backing electoral reform. The Staggers’ James Macintyre wrote:

In order to persuade his MPs to accept the Lib Dem demand for a referendum during the coalition negotiations, he made it clear they can campaign for a “No” vote. And there is no doubt he will stick to that. What is in doubt, however, is the assumption – widely held across Westminster, including among Lib Dem cabinet ministers – that he himself will back publicly the “No”‘ campaign.

Instead, in a sign of how deep the pact between himself and Nick Clegg may yet become, I understand that Cameron is considering supporting a “Yes” vote. He will not campaign for it like Clegg, but he could state his support much nearer the time.


The BBC, Guardian and others are now reporting this story but credit to the New Statesman’s James Macintyre for being the only journalist to credit Left Foot Forward for breaking the story. This story’s author, Rupert Read, has more on his own blog.

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