Politics Summary: Wednesday, May 26th

The Liberal Democrats have pushed for a referendum on the alternative vote to be held on May 5 2011.

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The Liberal Democrats are targeting May 5, 2011, as the date for a referendum on the alternative vote (AV) – in a move which could disrupt the coalition. The Guardian reports that the Lib Dems fear a delay could lead to voters rejecting the proposal, and that holding it on the same day as elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and 280 English local councils will boost turnout.

When the referendum comes it will almost certainly lead to tension, with the Lib Dems supporting it, and David Cameron and almost the entire Tory Party opposed; for the losing side it may be impossible to carry on with their victorious colleagues. Senior Tory Peter Lilley, opening up the Queen’s speech debate, warned that the AV system would lead to “permanent hung parliaments”. The bill on AV, however, which the Conservatives support, will contain measures which advantage the party, to reduce the number of constituencies by as much as 10% and to equalise their size.

Many of the Right-wing papers, meanwhile, view the Queen’s speech as a shift to the Tories. The Times says the speech “tilted the coalition away from the Liberal Democrats”, one that “defined tax, immigration and police reform on Conservative terms… The fine print of the 18-month legislative programme revealed that he had won a series of behind-the-scenes victories over his coalition partners”. These ‘victories’ include a commitment to lower taxation; scope for George Osborne to keep rises in capital gains tax to a minimum; a reinstatement of the Tory election pledge to cut non-EU immigration to tens of thousands a year; and pressing ahead with Tory plans for elected police commissioners – using the term for the first time since the election. Other measures to please the Tories include plans to set up the office for budget responsibility and proposals to give parents and other providers more scope to set up “free schools” within the state sector. The Mail describes Cameron as having “appeased the Tory Right”, with the Lib Dems “losing ground on tax and migrants”. The Telegraph, however, is less pleased, claiming middle classes will “face higher taxes under Government plans… Workers who have saved to invest in shares and property will face higher taxes on their assets”.

The Independent reports allegations of “major electoral fraud” in Halifax, after “thousands of postal ballots were delivered by hand to polling stations” on the day of the general election. More than 4,000 ballots arrived on election day, not itself illegal but “considered unusual” since it “risks overwhelming the already-stretched safety checks aimed at minimising fraud”. Local Tories have raised questions over the validity of some of the ballots, having discovered that “a number of empty and derelict addresses in one particular ward had voters registered to them… The Tories say they have uncovered evidence of voter impersonation, phantom registrations and voter intimidation which they have passed on to the police.” However, the report adds that: “Prior to the election, questions were raised over vote-gathering tactics by Conservative candidates in the Park Ward area. In late April police arrested the then-Conservative councillor David Ginley and the prospective Tory candidate Mohammed Rashid on suspicion of electoral fraud. They were questioned and bailed pending further enquiries.” And the victorious candidate, Labour’s Linda Riordan, said of the Tories: “They are simply upset that they lost.”

The Times has an exclusive on the European Union setting its toughest targets yet in the battle to beat climate change, with a surprise plan aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels within ten years, at a cost of £33bn a year. The targets will be the most ambitious in the world. The report says: “The existing target of a 20 per cent cut is already due to cost £48 billion. The Commission will argue that the lower target has become much easier to meet because of the recession, which resulted in the EU’s emissions falling more than 10 per cent last year as thousands of factories closed or cut production. Emissions last year were already 14 per cent below 1990 levels… Connie Hedegaard, the Climate Commissioner, will make the case for the EU to commit itself unilaterally to a 30 per cent cut, to inspire other countries to follow suit and accelerate the development of low-carbon industries.” The plan, if implemented by the EU, could cause tensions in the UK government, with the Liberal Democrats promising in their manifesto to adopt the 30 per cent target “unilaterally and immediately” but the Conservatives suggesting they would oppose such a move.

And the major international story this morning is the rising level of tension on the Korean peninsula. The Guardian reports North Korea’s severing of all ties with the South, expelling South Koreans in the shared industrialised zone, leaving relations “at their worst point for years”. The retaliation follows Lee Myong-bak’s announcement that Seoul would “suspend trade, ban Northern ships from its waters and take Pyongyang to the UN security council”, the South Korean President adding that Seoul “would redesignate the North as its ‘main enemy’ – a term it dropped six years ago, when relations were thawing”. The report adds that Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, “called stability on the Korean peninsula a ‘shared responsibility’ of China and the US”. Speaking in Beijing she insisted: “No one is more concerned about peace and stability in this region than the Chinese.” And The Independent reports that: “North Korea threatened today to close the last road link with the South if Seoul goes ahead with anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, as Washington pressured China to help persuade the North to change its ways. The mounting antagonism between the two Koreas has shaken investors, uncertain how far they are ready to take their bitter rivalry after the South accused the North of torpedoing one of its warships.”

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28 Responses to “Politics Summary: Wednesday, May 26th”

  1. RTpolitics

    RT @leftfootfwd politics summary: http://bit.ly/9z8gqe – lib dems push for av referendum by may 2011

  2. Shamik Das

    Trouble ahead for #ConDemNation? RT @leftfootfwd: Politics Summary: http://bit.ly/9z8gqe – Lib Dems push for AV referendum by May 2011

  3. trevmax

    anybody know where the public stands on AV?

    “for the losing side it may be impossible to carry on with their victorious colleagues” – i disagree. if they lose the referendum they lose, that’s life. they can’t just take their ball away and refuse to play. the public who voted in the referendum would punish them for it

  4. Shamik Das

    trevmax – I agree, up to a point; provided the winning side don’t rub their noses in it, and provided the losers don’t suffer too great a loss of confidence. The biggest danger will come for Cameron if the referendum is passed – this may be the final straw for many Right-wing backbenchers who will have had to bite their tongue and not dissent for exactly one year by the time of the proposed date.

  5. winston k moss

    RT @leftfootfwd: Politics Summary: http://bit.ly/9z8gqe – Lib Dems push for AV referendum by May 2011

  6. Mr. Sensible

    This Queen’s Speach is full of nonsense, I’m afraid.

    The only really sensible proposal is to not allow alcohol to be sold below cost price.

    Those allegations, if there’s anything to them are of course very serious. But I don’t think people in glass houses should be throwing stones.

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – Have you actually read the Coalition document?

    Cameron got the same proportion of the vote as Blair yet far less seats. When you consider how hard it seemed to get that last useless unelected Prime Minister out of Downing Street do you really think the electorate will be stupid enough to vote for it?

    And as for “rubbing their nose in it” – you’ve just leapt from a vote on AV, which most people will believe when they see it, to one side winning and then that causing friction…. is this an evidenced based blog or just speculative nonsense?

  8. Shamik Das

    Yes – have you?

    “Speculative nonsense” – combined with insults, this is all you have to offer. When presented with evidence, you never accept it, you just launch into diatribes against the authors and fellow commenters.

    Reasoned debate can’t take place with unreasonable ranters.

  9. Mr. Sensible

    And, as someone pointed out in the House yesterday, this coalition wants to cut the number of MPs whilst increasing numbers of their own Lords.

    If this is the New Politics…

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – How can “rubbing their noses in it” since it hasn’t actually happened be anything but speculative?

    I hate to tell you Shamik but Labour just lost a General Election. It’s over.

    And perhaps if you had actually read some of my posts you’d realise I am far too reasonable to the discredited Labour Party and Labour may be in power if they’d tried listening to the people instead of dictating to the electorate.

    Finally you may think I am an unreasonable ranter but I am no hypocrite and I can face the truth when it is presented to me. Remind me again Shamik if you still think Spain is in the G20 or more recently whether or not you have a Sky Sports subscription…

  11. Shamik Das

    Thanks for proving my point with that nice little ad hom there!

  12. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – I read your personal blog regularly – the cricket section leads me to believe you have a Sky Sports subscription.

    Care to enlighten us Shamik?

    (This feels like asking Gordon Brown what his favourite biscuit is)

  13. Kurt

    Politics Summary: Wednesday, May 26th | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/9mIAdy

  14. trevmax

    why do we need to know about Shamik’s SKY subscription? just interested, but how is it going to enlighten us?


    “The biggest danger will come for Cameron if the referendum is passed – this may be the final straw for many Right-wing backbenchers who will have had to bite their tongue and not dissent for exactly one year by the time of the proposed date.”

    not sure what you mean here. you mean if the referendum is passed and gives AV, why will tory backbenchers have to bite their tongues? they are allowed to campaign against AV?

  15. trevmax


    i also think you’re a bit harsh on anon. i didn’t see an ad hom and he never really rants. one thing about this site (though i like it) is that it is fundamentally a bit dishonest. where guido admits he is about ‘tittle tattle, rumours…etc’ this site claims to be evidence based when it is blatantly tub-thumpingly tribally pro-Labour.

  16. Shamik Das

    They will indeed be free to campaign against it, but if they lose, the Right will be up in arms that Cameron even put it on the table. I may even have been wrong on my initial assessment – looks like they’re already beginning to stir – http://order-order.com/2010/05/26/the-brady-bunch/

  17. trevmax

    why will they be up in arms? why won’t they just accept it? what can they hope they can possibly do about it?

    maybe at the next hung parliament we’ll get a Lab-Con coalition that reverts us to FPTP

  18. trevmax


    i don’t see what your guido link has to do with the referendum on AV?

  19. Anon E Mouse

    trevmax – I never post anything on this or any other blog that can’t be substantiated – after all this blog proclaims it is “evidenced based”.

    I also *really* dislike hypocritical positions taken by Labour supporters, for example Harriet Harman bangs on about Lord Ascroft whilst Labour takes far more money from Lord Paul who Brown appointed.

    Regarding Shamik he states here:


    It is typical of the smearing hypocrisy of the left so I merely asked Shamik since he feels:


    Does he have a Sky Sports subscription – is he “lining Murdoch’s pocket” or not. The question still stands….

  20. Anon E Mouse

    That should have been the following in the arrows…

    Shamik Das says:
    April 13, 2010 at 10:16 am
    If sport is to continue to thrive, it must be available to the widest possible audience; it serves a greater purpose than merely lining Murdoch’s pocket.

  21. trevmax

    seems reasonable. so, Shamik, do you have a SKY Sports subscription?

  22. Anon E Mouse

    trevmax – With the greatest of respect you are new to this blog!

    It is highly unlikely of getting an answer to the question. My own view?

    He certainly knows his cricket (I know a couple of county players who I asked to read his blog a while back) and I think he does have a Sky Sports subscription.

    Big bad Murdoch eh!

  23. trevmax

    none of my business really. move alone nothing to see 😉

    i have a SKY Sports subscription. don’t know why really I only watch discovery

  24. Anon E Mouse

    trevmax – I only have a movie package and tend also to watch news channels and documentary’s….

    I’m moving along…

  25. trevmax

    is the world cup on sky or terrestrial? i only ask because i can only watch sky when it isn’t raining

  26. Fred


    Leave it. You have to be blinkered to support Labour. Just puked watching Alistair C on QT. Shamik is cut from the same cloth.

    They always move the arguement to say you are ranting, showing no respect because facts are embarrassing to them. Then their is the fav “ad hom”.

  27. trevmax

    These tribal labour voters are all the same. they’d be voting labour as the labour party was leading them out into the woods to be shot in the back of the head. they believe those on the right are ‘evil’ and this justifies their ludicrous tactics.

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