Fear rules the facts as No campaign surge into a 16-point lead

Shamik Das reports on today's Yes to AV and No to AV press conferences, plus the latest opinion poll on the Alternative Vote referendum - showing a 16-point 'No' lead.

Another day, another surfeit of myths from the No To AV campaign, with lashings of fear, hysteria and anger thrown in to boot. Just an ordinary day in the referendum campaign then, with today’s scaremongering served up by the slightly-less-unpalatable-than-Warsi-and-Osborne double act of David Cameron and John Reid.

On the other side, in contrast to the Tory leader and the former Labour home secretary clinging to their lecterns for dear life, a genuine cross-party, cross-society gathering: politicians Ed Miliband, Vince Cable, Alan Johnson and Darren Johnson; trade unionist Billy Hayes; fashion designer Amisha Ghadiali; and Eddie Izzard.

However, for all the facts, fear appears to be swaying the public mood against reform, with a poll for tomorrow’s Guardian giving the No campaign a 16-point lead – 14 points higher than the No lead in the same ICM series two months ago. The poll asks the same question that will appear on the ballot paper:

“At present, the UK uses the first past the post system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the alternative vote system be used instead?”

With the results:

“Among people who say they are likely to vote and have made up their minds, the No lead is now 16 points, with 42% saying yes and 58% no. Three-quarters of Conservatives are planning to vote will vote against, as will a small majority of Labour supporters. Only Lib Dem voters are firmly in favour, with more than two-thirds saying they will vote for the change.

“The Yes camp could still turn things around by winning over the 23% who say they do not know how they will vote, but this includes many people who say they may not turn out at all.

“Young people are more than twice as likely to favour AV as pensioners, but pensioners are more than twice as likely to vote as the young. Increasing youth turnout could determine the outcome.”

This morning, at the their press conference, we again had the extremism point and the comparisons with Australia from the no camp – rebutted here and here – with the myth of the day that AV is a system of “one person, many votes”, Cameron saying:

“…I believe in the principle of one person, one vote, and AV would mean the votes of some people get counted more than others.”

And Reid adding:

“It would not only be wrong, but it would be an outrage to try and secure a change to the electoral system for tactical party advantage by usurping the right of our citizens to an equal vote… The first votes to be counted twice are of the least popular candidate.”

A point he repeated on Boulton & Co. on Sky News at lunchtime, alongside the claim Hitler gained power because of PR.

As the graph below from @stackee shows, each person only gets one vote per round:
A point illustrated by Will Straw on Sky News today, when he said:

“If you go to the pub and order a pint of John Smith’s but they are out of Smith’s and you choose a pint of Guinness instead, you’ve still only had one pint.”

With just 17 days to go, the Yes campaign have it all to do to turn round the polls, and, crucially, inspire the don’t knows and won’t votes to choose hope and not miss this once in a generation opportunity to change our politics for the better.

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.

15 Responses to “Fear rules the facts as No campaign surge into a 16-point lead”

  1. Tom Littleford

    RT @leftfootfwd: Fear rules the facts as No campaign surge to 16-point lead: http://bit.ly/hj3Y9s reports @ShamikDas #Yes2AV #No2AV

  2. Stace

    Highlight of my week? My hastily-created, MS Paint AV graph appearing in an article for @leftfootfwd: http://bit.ly/hj3Y9s

  3. Denis Cooper

    Then why do MPs use exactly the same AV system to elect Select Committee chairmen, and why do the peers use exactly the same AV system to elect their Speaker?

    Have any cries of “This is undemocratic, it should be “One MP one vote””, or “This is an unfair system, it should be “One peer one vote”, been heard within Parliament?

    Links below, you can check it out for yourself.



  4. Trakgalvis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Fear rules the facts as No campaign surge to 16-point lead: http://bit.ly/hj3Y9s reports @ShamikDas #Yes2AV #No2AV

  5. Mr. Sensible

    Neither the Tory side of the no campaign with their sudden conversion to public services, or the yes campaign with their what can best be described as dubious notion that AV would somehow magic away safe seats and their confusing of the issue between extremists gaining seats and having an influence is impressing me in the slightest.

    I do, however, know which way I will be voting on the substance of the issue…

  6. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Fear rules the facts as No campaign surge to 16-point lead: http://bit.ly/hj3Y9s reports @ShamikDas #Yes2AV #No2AV

  7. Ed's Talking Balls

    Rather than using the headline ‘fear rules the facts’ and implying, in various posts and throughout the entire campaign, that those intending to vote ‘No’ are either ignorant or stupid, perhaps it would be more mature to accept that people have different opinions on voting reform?

    Your condescending and sometimes aggressive tone when it comes to this issue does you no favours. It might go some way to explaining why the ‘Yes’ campaign currently lags behind in the polls. People don’t generally react well to being talked down to and, from a purely personal perspective, being lectured to by Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Caroline Lucas, Ed Miliband and Charlie Kennedy serves to fix the mind.

  8. DrKMJ

    RT @leftfootfwd: Fear rules the facts as No campaign surge to 16-point lead: http://bit.ly/hj3Y9s reports @ShamikDas #Yes2AV #No2AV

  9. William

    Several myths pertaining to AV which need to be discussed. First is that AV leads to a majority winner. Just not true. candidates are elected with ~24% – 45% support. More people voted against the winner than for them. America has experience in this as show here:




    What’s more, getting MORE VOTES can cause a candidate to loose! In any voting system, getting more votes should cause you to win! it’s like a three card monte scheme:


    With AV, some people get a second bite of the apple. That’s not how a society should be run. One Person, One Vote.

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Ed’s Talking Balls – Have to agree with your comment on Shamik and his tone but that’s a given around these parts and he’s certainly thick skinned – he really doesn’t get it. He’s a star!!

    I’m voting for AV purely because to get PR will need a total change in this country. Certainly personalities such as Eddie Izzard are suck arse enough to put you off your lunch but without AV we won’t get PR.

    Of course AV has caused the election of the worst Labour Party leader I can remember – a total electoral no hoper but even so it has to be remembered it was such a poor AV system that the likes of the Harriet Harman got numerous votes which stinks and resulted in the hapless Miliband being elected with only support from the union dinosaurs and not the PLP or party members…

  11. Ed's Talking Balls

    Anon E Mouse,

    As a long-time follower but only recent contributor to LFW, I have enjoyed the content of the posts and reading different opinions. What has undermined that, however, has been the tone of the contributors.

    Also, if the editor is reading, might I suggest that a post on the threat to the USA’s credit rating, owing to a lack of a credible deficit reduction plan, would be appropriate? More pertinently, perhaps a post regarding Labour’s silence on the matter? After all, this blog claims to be committed to fighting against old politics and media manipulation, but this seems to be just what the shadow cabinet is practising. Just a thought…

  12. Anon E Mouse

    Ed’s Talking Balls – Most of the posts by Will Straw tend to be more measured – same with Ed Jacobs but the likes of some of the contributors and the views they espouse here can be quite shocking.

    Joss Garman and his seeming support over the starving to death of thousands of Africans so that American GM food wasn’t used: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/11/what-channel-4-got-wrong/

    Or Kevin Meagher, a “Special Advisor” the Labour Northern Ireland Secretary refuses to call the IRA terrorists: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/02/tory-run-hammersmith-council-community-funding-cuts/

    It’s as if this fine blog doesn’t care if Labour wins the next election or not (they won’t in any event with the wrong brother at the helm) and really doesn’t understand the term “Middle England”.

    I know others I speak to say LFF has the stench of death about it but why this site doesn’t print positive stories about the party I used to support I do not know. If you keep claiming black is white when it clearly isn’t just puts people off and if LFF represents the real face of government opposition in Britain in 2011 then the coalition really have nothing to worry about…

  13. Mr. Sensible

    Ed’s Talking Balls I do not agree with Shamik and LFF on the substance of the issue, however I tend to think posts on this blog are well-measured and well-evidenced.

    And since people want to talk about the ratings agencies, I think it’s worth reminding ourselves what they had to say about George Osborne and his economic credibility.

    They said our rating could be under threat if economic growth continues to undershoot expectations.

    My reading of their comments on the US is that their concern is much about the political situation; 1 Democrat President and Senate, 1 Republican House of Representatives, who cannot agree on a budget. As a result the federal government nearly shut down.

  14. Ed's Talking Balls

    Mr. Sensible,

    You’re right that a failure to achieve and sustain growth will do enormous damage. We’ll have to wait and see on that one. I am hoping, surely along with the rest of the country, that Osborne’s got it right and that this quarter’s figures will make more positive reading. At least there’s been no snow!

    I also agree with your reading of the US situation. However, the crux of S&P’s reasoning was that the AAA rating would be under threat if no serious policy to tackle the deficit was agreed upon. Whatever the reason for the lack of a policy (in America’s case, potential political deadlock), the rating agencies, IMF and OECD seem united in thinking that fiscal consolidation is necessary. Ed Balls and co need a more coherent policy on this, in my view. It’s not simply cuts versus growth. That’s a crude, simplistic way of viewing the situation.

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – Regarding the rating agencies you’re living in the past still I’m afraid and you really need to move on.

    You say they said; “They said our rating could be under threat if economic growth continues to undershoot expectations” Well obviously that’s true – it’s like saying if it rains you might get wet. It’s meaningless.

    The fact is that you and I have conversed many times and I’m still waiting for your world collapsing double dip recession which still hasn’t happened. Or Sheffield Forgemasters going bust yet it still continues to trade.

    The sooner Labour supporting individuals actually get a grip and see the new politics the better. The polls show that despite the unpopular nature of the necessary cuts, Labour simply can’t get traction with the electorate and are doomed to opposition for the foreseeable future. That could be down to the rank hypocrisy of Labour Party members, or the clear limitations of Ed Miliband but I think it’s deeper than that.

    The sooner the activists wake up and smell the coffee, the sooner a sensible conversation can be had and you just watch the next couple of months – I guarantee apologies for the financial mess we were in from the last government will come from the Labour Party.

    Personally seeing Wee Dougie Alexander (why would anyone even consider him for any job?) saying he’d hold the government to account over Libya after he was in a government that took us into Iraq was gut wrenching.

    It’s time for Labour to have a consistent message, to apologise for their financial incompetence and put an offer to the people. Who knows it might just work because the current opposition is pathetic…

Leave a Reply