"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Reason to vote against AV

Let's get this out upfront, I am #meh2AV: I really don't care if we have it or not. As Nick Clegg said before last year's election, it is a "miserable little compromise". It is not proportional (which is the Lib Dems' obsession). I do not think that AV will make any difference, but then I am in a good position to say this because the associated plan to remove 8% of the constituencies means that we cannot compare like-with-like.

To me, the AV referendum is not about the voting system, it is about the politics associated with those who vote for and those who vote against AV. The Mail on Sunday today illustrate this very nicely. James Forsyth points out that the two coalition partners are on either side of the referendum, which means that one of them will lose. He says that the coalition have agreed that there has to be "a set of 'policy wins' for the loser"

But there's increasing concern that the Lib Dems' consolation prize might come at the Tories' expense. One Cameroon told me last week he worries that if the Lib Dems lose the referendum they will disown the Coalition's NHS reforms. Already, Clegg has told his MPs that he is 'taking the lead' in the Government in trying to amend these reforms, while one of his senior allies is calling these changes to the NHS 'one reform too many'. The danger for the Tories is that Clegg will claim that he’s stopped them from damaging the NHS. This charge would do huge damage to Cameron – whose reputation as a different kind of Tory is largely built around his personal commitment to the NHS – and revive the charge that the Conservatives can’t be trusted with the health service.

If ever there was a reason to vote against AV, this is it.


  1. You're right, this is a bloody good reason to vote No. I had planned to vote yes but the NHS is more important

  2. Now I'm a really big fan of AV. I don't like straight PR for lots of reasons and think that either some form of AV or STV is what we need.

    On the other hand if you told me that NO to AV would save the NHS I would have to think about it really really hard.


  3. @AFZ

    I'm not sure whether a vote against AV will save the NHS (it does assume that Clegg will demand a consolation prize, he may not). But it is a nice theory.

    There's also a theory that if the yes to AV wins then the Tory backbenchers will rebel and bring down the government. I guess that too is rather fanciful.

    More likely will be the mass cull of Tory and LD councillors in May and the NHS being a doorstep issue. That will make Cameron re-think.