Friday, 9 July 2010

Is the AV referendum badly timed

I happen to think that holding the Alternative Vote verses First Past the Post referendum in May is bad timing. Surely it is too early to get the campaign going on winning this Alternative Vote. Is it not too soon after the general election to start running a campaign especially when there are elections in Wales and Scotland.

I'm not sure the public or the campaigners are going to be ready for it. I think people need time to consider these elections and we should not only hold this vote later (at least two years later) but to get the voters out that really care about FPTP or AV or voting reform (and therefore understand the arguments) would it not be best to hold this possible change in our voting system in a completely separate vote.

Is it not better to let the coalition settle so as to not pressure the coalition if David Cameron or Nick Clegg is seen to of lost a public vote? I of course do not believe that the result of this vote will be devastating for Nick Clegg or indeed David Cameron but it does offer more pressure and sticks to beat them with by Labour and others.

I understand the above would include a cost but democracy does cost money (at least a delay also delays the cost). A compromise would be to hold the vote during council elections in later years instead of the same time as the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections.

Another problem as I see it is that this issue will appear on many Lib Dem Leaflets and therefore may appear to be more of a Liberal Democrat campaign then a vote "Yes" on AV campaign. This could cloud the result as some voters may think their voting/siding with the Lib Dems on this rather than for say better democracy. The vote will be more party political then it needs to be.

Of course there are others who believe that an early referendum would be a good idea see Five reasons to cheer the timing of the AV referendum for example. I find myself disagreeing with Mark Reckons.

His first point on 'referendum has not been kicked into the long grass'. This is true but it is also true if a date is set for 2012 or 2013 that we know it coming and hey all the more reason for the Liberal Democrats to stay in a coalition.

2nd point. Mark believes that having the vote 'coincide with the local and Scottish/Welsh elections will increase turnout'. Well yes but will it improve the quality of the voter understanding? Will there be more votes just choosing an option because they have to?

3rd point 'easier for the Lib Dems to get out the vote for a "Yes" vote'. Well Lib Dems would be out campaigning in either case for a yes vote anyway and maybe less Tories? Also Labour people who support the 'Yes' vote and infact others like UKIP will also beable to concentrate on helping the "Yes" campaign. I dont see this as a plus point.

4th point ' It will ensure that the Labour leadership candidates have to properly address what they would do and whether they will support a change'. Yes this point I do agree with. But then again Labour as a party would still have to address this later and I don't see this as a key factor in the Labour leadership selection, althought it is interesting to know their views.

5th Point 'It will give us 4 years to get the necessary changes in place if there is a "Yes" vote'. Again a very good point so we should not leave it too late. But surely this can be organised in two or three years, so not a major issue.

I guess the date is not going to change now and I will be campaigning for AV but I will also be helping in local elections and this will make the AV look for like a party issue (i.e. a pro Lib Dems one) which may make the "Yes" vote a little less popular with some.

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