EXCLUSIVE: New poll shows ‘Yes’ campaign in clear lead

The pro-AV campaign was given a double boost today. A new poll shows the campaign is in the lead while the Labour Yes! campaign has launched with support from across the party.

The pro-AV ‘Yes to Fairer Votes‘ campaign was given a double boost today. A new poll, seen exclusively by Left Foot Forward, shows the campaign is in the lead while the Labour Yes! campaign has launched with support from across the party’s different wings.

An ICM poll for the Electoral Reform Society shows that voters want a switch to the Alternative Vote (AV) system by a factor of 3:2. Thirty five per cent say they will vote ‘yes’ in the referendum, with 22% voting ‘no’ – and 35% undecided. The poll showed support across social classes and regions. The only age group with a majority against is 55-64 (31% yes, 33% no, 29% undecided). The findings are at odds with polling for YouGov which has shown the ‘No’ Campaign in the lead.

The poll also suggests that Labour would gain an electoral dividend from taking a clear pro-AV stance on the issue. Labour’s election coordinator, Andy Burnham, had previously said that Labour would not campaign for AV. The poll asked:

“If the Labour Party decided to support changing the voting system for British parliamentaryvote Labour in Your next Local Council election/ The 2011 Scottish Parliament election/The 2011 Welsh Assembly election  or would it make no difference one way or the other?”

Thirty-one per cent of voters who identify with Labour are more likely to vote for the party if they support AV while just 2 per cent would be turned off. Campaigning on the issue also appears to be a significant way of attracting Liberal Democrats to the party with 17% to 8% saying they would be more likely to vote Labour if it supported the change.

The Guardian today published a letter from Labour MPs and activists including leader, Ed Miliband, stating that “First past the post isn’t working … It’s time for change”. As Next Left has noted, the list unites many of the party tribes:

“the signatories show that this is a rare cause with the ability to unite Ken Livingstone with Neil Kinnock and Oona King, Tony Benn and Peter Mandelson, Tessa Jowell and Tom Watson, Jon Cruddas and Roy Hattersley, James Purnell and John McDonnell, Phil Collins and Neal Lawson (and even, from journalism, Kevin Maguire and John Rentoul).”

In response, the ‘No’ campaign have resorted to pretending to be proportional representation purists. A sign of perhaps that they’ll try anything to defeat the referendum.

The Yes to Fairer Votes and Labour Yes! campaigns are both on twitter: @YesInMay and @LabourYes

UPDATE 17.15:

The ‘No’ campaign are now trying to shoot the messenger. Head of press, Dylan Sharpe, formerly an advisor to Boris Johnson, tweets:

Utter rubbish from @leftfootfwd & @wdjstraw. Poll by the Electoral Reform Society who are #Yes2AV & the qu isn’t the one that will be asked!

For the benefit of Mr Sharpe, the poll was carried out by ICM Research, a respected pollster. The question said:

“A referendum is due to be held in May 2011 on adopting a new voting system for British parliamentary elections. The proposed new system is calledthe ‘Alternative Vote’ (AV). If the referendum on AV were held tomorrow, how would you vote?”

Not so different from YouGov’s longer winded question which explained the different systems before asking:

“If a referendum were held tomorrow on whether to stick with first-past-the-post or switch to the Alternative Vote for electing MPs, how would you vote?”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.