ComRes has released a new poll on the AV referendum commissioned by the NO2AV campaign. Topline figures, weighted by likelihood to vote in the referendum and excluding don’t knows have the NO campaign ahead by 60% to 40%, the biggest lead the NO campaign have recorded so far.

I always urge some caution in polls commissioned by the campaigns themselves – but in this particular case the tables appear wholly and entirely above board. It is a standard survey asking how likely people are to vote, and then asking them the bare, unadorned referendum question. Note that the regular ComRes polls on AV for the Independent on Sunday are carried out online, so this is the first recent ComRes telephone survey on AV.

There is also a new poll by a company called ICD Research in the New Statesman, which shows NO ahead by 14 points: NO 53%, YES 39%, undecided 9% (repercentaged to exclude don’t knows it would be a 16 point lead for NO).

I’m not aware of any previously published political polling by ICD, but it appears to have been an online poll, weighted by age, gender and region but not politically. Both the ICD and ComRes polls were conducted over last weekend, so both slightly predate the YouGov/Sun poll conducted early this week.


413 Responses to “Two new polls show NO campaign well ahead”

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  1. Bernard Disken

    I don’t know how many different voting systems you have experience of voting in.

    I can only speak of my experience of STV in my council area. Ours was the most single party dominated council in Scotland. There were few opposition councillors under FPTP.

    Any PR system would have been better than what we had (even AV would have been marginally better).

    In reality, STV delivered a council with a minority Labour Executive, with significant multi-party opposition. More importantly we, the voters, not only could but actually did select which candidates from the various parties we preferred. In 5 wards, an Independent was one of the successful candidates because their appeal crossed party boundaries.

    I dislike that in the European elections, the Scottish regional vote, FPTP constituencies at Westminster and Holyrood, the parties select who they want to represent them.

    Thjat is the antithesis of democracy. Elected Members should represent voters not parties.

  2. @Crossbat11 – I thought your comments regarding last night were well thought through and highly useful. I freely admit to my share of the blame last night for perpetuating a pointless ding dong that really wasn’t go to reach any mutually satisfactory conclusion, and I will try to recall your homily in any future exchanges.

    @Steve – re the 55% dissolution threshold – I understood that this was not yet law, although I could be mistaken. In any event, a 55%+ vote is not necessary if the government loses a confidence motion and cannot form a government that can win such a vote within 2 weeks I recall.

    In terms of the possibility of an election, I think that the very substantial pressured on the coalition will not go away. Parties and MPs will make judgments based on a mix of principle and self interest, but people saying it would be madness to go now must remember that a point may come when they think it would be worse later.

    I suspect that the Lib Dems in particular will be incensed at the No campaign and Tory involvement in it. The palpable loss of trust this has brought will be corrosive, and Lib Dems may well think staying in will be worse that coming out.

  3. crossbat11

    :-)

  4. Frankg
    Very interesting post. I’m not sure about your theory that turnout will be higher than usual in local elections though. I know that this is only narrowly anecdotal, but no-one I know has ever mentioned the referendum except when I’ve prompted them.

    Both at work and socially the reaction has varied between apathy and bewilderment. The turnout may be fractionally higher than usual, but I’d be surprised if it was more than say 5%.

    Crossbat
    Give me a site and I’ll see you there!

    Bernard Disken
    I didn’t like the system in the Euro election because the party selects the order of who goes through. Therefore they can parachute their candidates in to an area that doesn’t want them.

  5. reposting this from guardian website, as it’s absolutely fantastic in terms of dismissing lies from both sides of the AV debate…

    Lie #1: AV will result in endless coalitions.

    Truth: Australia has had less coalitions than the UK in the 93 years since it adopted AV. Even if this were true, coalitions are not necessarily a bad thing. British politics is unused to coalition governance, and so this particular government is a bad example of what coalitions might look like in the future. In countries where coalition governance is the norm, parties offer realistic manifestos that indicate what they would do in coalition with other parties.

    Lie #2: AV will result in LibDems being kingmakers forever.

    Truth: Analysis suggests LibDems would have only received 10 more seats had the previous election been carried out with AV instead of FPTP. (Source: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/research_says_alternative/) However, no previous election can really be used as a model for future elections under a different system, as a different system can result in a totally different voter psychology.

    Lie #3: AV eliminates the need for tactical voting.

    Truth: AV, as a preferential voting system, merely increases the likelihood that someone will vote for their first choice. Their second and third choices may still be tactically chosen, but AV will give a better overview of which parties British voters support.

    Lie #4: AV gives some people more votes than others.

    AV is better known as Instant Run-Off Voting, which means that in actuality several elections are being carried out, with a voters preferences being substituted for their vote in each election. Assume that in a particular election, two candidates are eliminated before a winner is found. What is actually happening is there are three elections. If someone expresses a preference for a candidate that is not eliminated, they will vote for that candidate three times, once in each election. Someone who voted for both candidates who were eliminated will also vote three times, but for three different people. The number of votes remains the same, but the distribution of votes changes as candidates are eliminated.

    Lie #5: AV will reduce the likelihood that we will get PR.

    Truth: A “No” vote or abstention in this election is a tacit acceptance of the status quo as preferable to the alternative offered. If PR is truly the goal, then preferential voting could be legitimately seen as a small first step. Retaining the status quo will not advance the cause of PR in any way. One system of PR, known as Single Transferable Vote (STV) is in fact identical to AV in elections where there is only one winner. British elections only allow for one winner per constituency, so STV and AV elections would result in the same overall results. If AV were implemented, and then the number of winners per constituency increased, STV would be the de facto electoral system.

    Lie #6: Voting for AV is voting for Nick Clegg/LibDems/Coalition/(insert other undesirable group here). Lie #6.5: Voting against AV is voting for Cameron/Conservative/Coalition/(insert other undesirable group here).

    Truth: A vote for AV is a vote for AV. The only case in which you should vote no is if you truly believe FPTP is preferable. To vote based on the person or group proposing or opposing the policy is to commit a genetic fallacy.

    Lie #7: AV will end safe-seats.

    Any constituency in which voters can reliably be expected to deliver 50% or more of first-preference votes for one party will be a safe seat under any voting system, and AV will not change that. What AV will change is the number of people voting for their second or even third preference as if it were their first preference. Whether this will reduce the number of safe seats is difficult to say, as voting preferences are currently unknown.

    Lie #8: FPTP delivers stronger governments with stronger mandates.

    Truth: Defining what a strong government consists of is tricky, but a strong mandate is surely one in an elected candidate has a majority of votes rather than merely a plurality. AV requires each candidate to have gained a majority of votes before they can be elected. AV thus delivers stronger mandates, and if no party obtains a majority of seats, then there is a strong mandate from the voters that no party deserves a majority. A strong government that does not represent the will of the people is not indicative of a democratic system.

    Lie #9: This referendum does not matter.

    Truth: This referendum is more important than a general election, because it will completely change the way future general elections are held. If you care at all about your vote and what it means, you will vote in this referendum

  6. Alec

    “Lib Dems may well think staying in will be worse that coming out.”

    I do hope that comment was unrelated to the topic that crossbat and I were discussing!

  7. @ Pete B, Crossbat and Colin Green,

    I’m in the Brummie club too! Villa fan although now living in London.

    My first voting experience was voting in Gisela Stuart in 1997! I now live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country and not even AV will change that.

    @ Steve,

    Are you sure the coalition agreement contained a clause about HofC needing to vote 55% in a vote of confidence. That would be unconstitutional and a coalition agreement couldn’t make it stick anyway.

    Are you thinking about the legislation which they were hoping to pass to fix parliaments at 5 years – in this legislation there is indeed a clause to say that parliament can’t be dissolved unless 55% vote against. But I don’t think it has passed yet (please tell me it hasn’t as it would render a defeated government a lameduck!).

  8. I also think this referendum is going to be a close run thing.However I also think there is absolutely no point in
    looking at the news etc for the next few days,the media is
    completely obsessed with dresses,wedding routes and
    all the rest.Perhaps by Tuesday it will have all died down a bit.Being an old cynic I wonder if the goverment had anything to do with the date of this wedding.

  9. @ Jamie,

    Excellent post – really good at showing the myths on both sides and what has disillusioned me about the debate.

    But I must just disagree with your conclusions on 6 & 9. If you don’t really mind either system, or you think both carry as many pluses as minuses you may well stay on the fence, decide not to vote, or think “Well I’m not that bothered either way, so I might use my vote to give Clegg/Cameron/Milliband a kicking”.

    You can say that is a “genetic fallacy” but no more than people voting against a party they support to give them a “bloody nose”.

  10. @Jamie,

    Thanks for posting that list. Very well written article; just the sort of thing I’m looking for to help me make up my mind on the referendum. I am floating backwards and forwards between “Meh. Yes, I suppose” and “Meh. No, I suppose”.

    I find the terminology of the point about Australia interesting (not just in that article but generally) . It is often said that AV doesn’t produce coalitions in Australia, but that is slightly misleading. The National and Liberal parties are an ongoing coalition, and so any government they form is itself a coalition government. Only when Labor wins a majority of seats can Australia truly be said to have a single party government.

    If the same thing happened in the UK, and the Liberals and Conservatives or (much more likely) Labour formed a permanent electoral pact, could it really be said that the resulting government wasn’t a “Coalition Government”?

  11. @Ann Miles – “….for the next few days,the media is
    completely obsessed with dresses,wedding routes and
    all the rest.”

    Oddly enough, I don’t pick up any significant public interest in this in my area (NE England). I’ve seen two tacky plastic flags outside one house and there is a pub 15 miles away in another village decked out in bunting. Our bin men are collecting tomorrow as normal. I suspect the wedding will be largely forgotten about by Saturday by the vast majority of people.

    Related in a way to polling, I was slightly staggered to hear a government minister (Hunt, I think) suggest that 2b people worldwide would watch the event. Since then this has increased in some reports to 3b. I’m not sure how this figure is derived, but I suspect it’s a bit of nonsensical UK centric self delusion. I very much doubt half the UK population will be watching, let alone half the world, especially since a fair few of them will be in bed when it happens.

    While I can see some interest in commonwealth countries, I doubt China will be that bothered, and I’m really struggling to work out a global viewing breakdown that would bring 2 or 3 billion people together.

    Are there any polls on this?

  12. @Bernard Disken

    ‘The evidence is overwhelming that for the vast majority of voters, the candidate is IRRELEVANT. In such circumstances it’s hardly surprising that a rational debate is impossible. The party list system for the Euro election is the best we have had.’

    Heaven forbid! Having seen how long it took for the Irish election to sort out their list type system – nearly 6 days. That was with a fairly conclusive result and where coalition building talks were taking place before the last results were declared. The thought of the vote counting going on and on, and on and on etc. whilst various combinations of coalitions ‘horse-traded’ for policies and ministerial jobs fills me with gloom and horror. The UK is far larger and the number of smaller parties and independants too numerous that group lists would consist of 24+ candidates for even 4 seat constituencies. (Con, Lab, LD, Green, UKIP, BNP just to name the main contenders and discounting independants and local groups). That means a minimum of 20 rounds of vote counting and redistribution of preferences. Then there are the recounts and disputed ballot checks etc.

    Incidentially I worked out that if FPTP had been used in the Irish GE then only three of the eventual winning candidates under PR would NOT also have won under FPTP. For one of these the winning party was still the same, but a different list candidate of that party won instead.

  13. In response to the questions above about what ‘real’ LibDems think, I am one, I’m very happy with the choices the party has made and I see no risk of the coalition breaking up before 2015. There’s no doubt in my mind that the country is better off with a Lib/Con coalition than we would have been with a minority Conservative administration held to ransom by it’s own right wing fringe. And I’ll be very happy to defend that position in 2015.

    I find it rather funny when people suggest the LibDems would quit the government for the sake of their poll rating. When you’ve been in opposition for 80 years polls are a lot less interesting than actually implementing liberal policies in government. Sure, we have been the grateful recipients of lots of (often un-liberal) protest votes for years and those fair-weather supporters are most likely gone for good. But we’ve also spent years hearing people say “I agree with you but you’ll never get into government”. So longer term I remain confident about our electoral prospects.

    Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe voters will be so switched off by coalition politics that they will return overwhelmingly to two-party politics. But where is the evidence? Even against Gordon Brown the Tories managed to persuade barely more than a third of voters to support them. And even in the face of all of the difficult things the present government is doing Labour’s recovery is not that convincing. So it’s a bit early for either party to begin gloating about LibDem misfortunes. Compared with the last several decades of disappointment, we’re doing okay!

  14. @frankg

    “The party manifesto is likely to be deliberately kept ‘non controversial and bland in order to appeal to potential wavers in other parties and to attract 2nd, 3rd etc prefs.”

    I can’t see the logic of this argument. Aren’t you wanting to appeal to potential waverers under all voting systems? Why are these extra votes any less desirable under FPTP (especially if it’s in a marginal, where AV could make most difference)?

    (Interesting story about Warsi appealing to BNP voters to back her in 2005, BTW: http://tinyurl.com/6euj7n7 )

    “With AV more likely to lead to coalitions than FPTP in the future, no voter will be able to know with any degree of confidence what policies will the agreed by the coalition.”

    I suspect voters’ knowledge of the manifesto is greatly exaggerated. And I imagine Mrs Thatcher would have been grateful if half of her cabinet had agreed with some of her policies, never mind the voters.

    “AV seems to encourage voters to vote for candidates on 2nd etc prefs, when they don’t actually support that candidates policies. AV seems to be about voting for the candidate you dislike least. To my mind that is voting for negative reasons rather than positive…”

    Voting isn’t about enthusiasm – I may hold my fifth preference in higher regard than you do your first. Who knows? You’re picking your preferred choice from the field of candidates on offer. At that stage it’s only right and proper that everyone’s vote should carry the same weight, regardless of how many eliminated candidates have gone before. Each round is, in effect, a separate election.

    “Far better to be able to oppose the policy with a clear mind and heart, saying well I didn’t vote for that party so it’s not my fault he/she got elected.”

    If that’s what you want then you’re free to limit the number of your preferences. It’s no reason to deny others a fair say in the selection of their representative.

  15. @ Crossbat11

    “You might find it surprising, but I’m a big fan of yours. Totally disagree with your politics but your sardonic and witty contributions quite often make me chuckle out loud, to the extent that my wife sometimes asks me what I’m laughing at when I’m on the laptop. I usually tell her that I’ve dipped into the Birmingham City F.C website!”

    You know, Old Nat is one of my favorites too. And not surprisingly, I think of anyone who blogs here, your politics are probably the closest to mine. I’ve noticed I seem to both wholeheartedly agree and completely disagree with regulars here depending on the political issue.

    “First my diagnosis. Dry, arid and statistical point-scoring exchanges that take place in cyberspace are devoid of the human and personal interaction that usually brings with it mutual understanding and respect. It’s easy to fire off barbs, witticisms and wild assertions when strumming one’s keyboard in the privacy and sanctuary of our own abodes, wherever those may be. The ground rules of civilised debate can, on occasions, be safely, casually and, may I say, cowardly avoided in such circumstances. Faceless and remote exchange can dehumanise us all eventually.”

    I think you’re probably right. But I find it interesting that most of you do not blog anonymously, which helps control rancor and people getting angry. Maybe that’s a cultural thing. Blogging anonymously is common on American sites .(though sometimes big bloggers with their own websites get outed). I feel like blogging anonymously follows from a long tradition of of leafletting anonymously, printing out pamphlets anonymously, and writing anonymously. Many of the most prominent and influential founding fathers had fake names they would use in which they would write letters to newspapers in order to attack a rival, attack a proposed law or policy, or to defend their own controversial decision. I think blogging anonymously is only the latest incarnation of that. It can be problematic to civil discourse on a blog but it doesn’t neccessarily mean that society will suffer as a result.

  16. It is hard enough to get some people to turn out to vote/follow the argument/choose one out of “they’re all the same” (politicians) under FPTP… does anyone think a change to AV is likely to *increase* turnout/participation, or put another way – is there a reason why voting is mandatory (under the AV system) in Australia?

  17. “Does anyone think a change to AV is likely to *increase* turnout/participation.”

    Personally I’d think it a bonus if it did rather than a justification for its introduction. Turnout will increase if people think their vote will be significant, which could vary under any system.

    “is there a reason why voting is mandatory (under the AV system) in Australia?”

    Any link to the use of AV is, at best, not proven.

    http://fullfact.org/factchecks/AV_referendum_facts_turnout_australia_compulsory_voting-2658

  18. @Billy Bob

    Australia experience what may ‘mature’ democracies experience – political apathy. There are many reasons for this, but with regard to voting systems FPTP isn’t really helpful in terms of encouraging political participation.

    Yes, it’s simple, but because most votes are simply thrown into the bin it deters many from bothering (what is the point of voting in a seat where ‘party x’ always win with 40% of the vote and you know that nothing you can do in the ballot box will change that?).

    Of course, you could also argue “what is the point of voting in a safe AV seat?”, and it’s a fair point – but there are less safe seats under AV as the winning bar is raised to 50%.

    The proportional systems in Scotland and Wales seem to work pretty well and are certainly more complex than either AV or FPTP, so I don’t think complexity is that big an issue in turnout.

  19. SoCalLiberal

    My reason for posting anonymously was purely commercial. When you were bidding for contracts from Labour controlled councils, it was unwise also to be known as a Nat!

    While I don’t have to do it now, since I retired, I use the same moniker on all the sites that I post, and people wouldn’t learn anything new about me if I changed to my real name.

  20. I’ve found the No2AV adverts on this site and on LabourList particularly annoying to be honest – I presume that UKPollingReport is advocating the No2Av vote?

  21. Jamie

    After the referendum on AV, it would be good if someone did some research as to why people voted Yes or No.

    (Anthony, please note!!! – YouGov are well placed to survey their entire panel on this).

    Logically, complexity should only be a problem in those parts of England where they have never used preference voting.

    But logic seems to have little to do with voting!

  22. marchondowntheline

    As I’m sure Anthony will point out (yet again), advertising is a revenue source for the site and implies nothing about the views of the site owner.

    Do you think Sky are advocating that you buy Coke as olpposed to Pepsi?

  23. @marchondowntheline

    I find hyperactive animated adverts distracting per se, however, even for a technophobe like me there are surprisingly easy and effective ways of filtering them out. ;)

    Thanks Jamie… and RogerH for the link.

  24. “I think that the very substantial pressures on the coalition will not go away.”

    Precisely Alec.

    There are still too many people who think it’s a boolean decision on the 6th that the coalition splits acrimoniously within days or there will be four years of sailing through to a 2015 election with Cameron and Clegg untroubled by the AV vote or their Party and personal standings.

    It’s all about pressure.

    I could be wrong about Clegg and he might somehow emerge unscathed after four years having somehow turned public opinion and the Lib Dems fortunes completely around. I think it’s hugely unlikely but anything can happen in politics.

    But anyone who thinks a No vote and bad results for the Lib Dems will not affect the coalition for the worse in the short and long term is fooling themselves.

    For one if Clegg and the Lib Dems adopt the posture that we have to stay in the coalition no matter what, then Cameron will walk all over them. If the AV campaign proved one thing it’s that Cameron will not hesitate to exploit weakness.

    And with ever more signs that the NHS reforms are going to be pushed through with only cosmetic changes, if Clegg or Cameron think they’ve seen the last of acrimonious disputes within the coalition they are going to be in for a shock.

    Free schools, immigration, nuclear power, Europe, Libya & Afghanistan, welfare, law and order. Name an issue and the chances are there are tensions within the coalition that are never far from the surface.

    “I suspect the wedding will be largely forgotten about by Saturday by the vast majority of people.”

    But not the media for whom this is a gigantic feeding frenzy.

    Were this some kind of government initiative instead of an anachronistic ceremonial then wiser heads would have stepped in long before this to damp expectations down. Going by the coverage and hype tomorrow is going to be bigger than the Olympics the World Cup and the last episode of friends all rolled into one. The actuallity of a parade through (a possibly wet) London with a lot of horses and marching soldiers culminating in a bride in a dress and groom exchanging vows in a very big church might just not live up to the unheard of levels of hype for many people. At least the news channels can switch coverage to a street party every now and then with cheeky Brits having a knees up.

    In an age of incredible 3D Movies and astonishing spectacles like the Chinese olympic opening ceremony it’s hard to see how it could ever live up to the hype.

    Rest assured though, the media will tell it is and was the greatest show on earth.. right up until they find something else to fixate on.

  25. “I presume that UKPollingReport is advocating the No2Av vote?”

    I’m sure they’re not. Has anyone seen any Yes2AV banner ads, BTW? I know they’re short of cash but didn’t they raise a fair bit online a couple of weeks ago? What are they spending it on? Can we expect something spectacular in the last week (after all the postal votes have gone in)?

  26. @Mick Park,

    Is there any kind of ceremonial that isn’t anachronistic?

  27. @Jamie

    Thank you for the re-posting. Unfortunately even I can see where its ‘Truth’ is indeed more than a litlle ‘false’

    ‘Lie #1: AV will result in endless coalitions.
    Truth: Australia has had less coalitions than the UK in the 93 years since it adopted AV etc…’

    Comment: The truth is that Australia does not have a true 3 party system. Two parties have a pre-election pact that they will put up a candidate against an incumbant that is restanding. This is about 60% of their seats they hold. Thus in these seats their supporters automatically support each other as the final choice being offer will always be the incumbant and a non-coalition party. Hardly the case over here in the UK where Con, Lab, LD, UKIP and Greens (plus SNP/PC in Scotland/Wales.

    Lie 2Lie #2: AV will result in LibDems being kingmakers forever.

    Truth: Analysis suggests LibDems would have only received 10 more seats had the previous election been carried out with AV instead of FPTP. (Source: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/research_says_alternative/) However, no previous election can really be used as a model for future elections under a different system, as a different system can result in a totally different voter psychology.

    Comment: There is a very good article on Stimulating the Effects of the Alternative Vote at pa.oxfordjournals.org
    This analyses the GE2010 using the data taken at the time of voter 2nd and 3rd preferences. It lists those seats in England, Scotland and Wales that would have changed hands. It even details in which roound of the ballot the winner woould have emerged.

    The overall effect would have been as follows (Thisk and Speaker’s seat excluded):

    Con FPTP 305 AV 283 Loss of 22
    Lab FPTP 258 AV 248 Loss of 10
    LD FPTP 57 AV 89 Gain of 32
    Green 3 3 no change
    SNP 6 6 no change
    PC 3 3 no change

    Incidently under Full PR LDs would have got 149 seats 60 more than AV.

    Lie #3: AV eliminates the need for tactical voting.

    Truth: AV, as a preferential voting system, merely increases the likelihood that someone will vote for their first choice. Their second and third choices may still be tactically chosen, but AV will give a better overview of which parties British voters support.

    Comment: Tactical Voting is voting for a party you don’t support because you want to stop another party from winning. Isn’t that exactly the purpose of 2nd, 3rd prefs etc are all about. It’s whole purpose seems to be designed to encourage voters to vote for a party which is not their first choice.

    Lie #4: AV gives some people more votes than others.

    Comment: The alternative preferences of those voters who voted for the eventual winner and the runner-up in AV are NEVER EVER counted. Only the alternative preferences of those voters who candidate has been eliminated. But it may be that the voters for the eventual runner-up could have produced a third candidate as the winner if their alternative prefs had been taken into account.

    Lie #5: AV will reduce the likelihood that we will get PR.

    Comment: If the LD push for AV is successful then it is very unlikely that they could then push to change for a PR system for several GEs. They would have to try it say twice before saying it needs changing yet again. If AV is unsuccessful it leaves LDs with the chance to press on immediately for PR. One of the alternative to PR having been rejected. PR is not on the ballot this time around and LDs would be entitled to claim it has not been rejected, merely the AV alternative.

    Well that is ‘truths’ of 5 of the 9 ‘Lies’ debunked or shown themselves to be dubious in their veracity at the very least.

    It is now gone 2 am in Cyprus and I am off to bed.

  28. @ Jamie

    Small correction to my comment on Lie 1

    Two parties have a pre-election pact that they will NOT put up a candidate against an incumbant that is restanding.

    I suppose it does rather change things.

    Definitely time for bed!

  29. “It’s whole purpose seems to be designed to encourage voters to vote for a party which is not their first choice”

    Quite the opposite. It allows voters to place their fiirst choice at the top without fear of letting their least favourite in by default.

    “The alternative preferences of those voters who voted for the eventual winner and the runner-up in AV are NEVER EVER counted”

    Nor should they be. AV preserves the principle of ‘One Person, One Vote’. Each voter ha a single, transferable vote. If your first preference is still in play then you don’t get to cast a second vote at the same time.

  30. @NEIL A

    “Is there any kind of ceremonial that isn’t anachronistic?”

    The changing of the Ipad. ;-)

  31. The ‘55% dissolution threshold’ is fast becoming an urban myth, not just on this site but elsewhere. The truth is it doesn’t exist and never really existed except as a proposal. It appeared in the original coalition document as a fairly badly thought out idea and was met with howls of horror and incomprehension from all the government’s opponents and some of its supporters too. Both those for and agin didn’t really understand it but still felt very strongly about it.

    The original intention had been to cement the coalition in place by making sure that neither Party involved could cause a snap election at a time when the polls were good for them if not their coalition partner. However after careful consideration (quite a lot of it on this site) it was realised that the various problems has already been solved in the provisions for the (fixed-term) Scottish Parliament.

    To quote Wikipedia:

    If the Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved (with at least two-thirds of the Members voting in favour), or if the Parliament fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within certain time limits [usually 28 days], the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary general election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation.

    The idea of the 55% was dropped and similar provisions were proposed for Westminster instead. This had the advantage of doing the job the coalition agreed on but with an even higher threshold. It was also much more coherent, increased the power of parliament over the executive and was difficult to oppose politically (Labour had proposed it for Scotland and the other Parties supported it). Once again Donald Dewar triumphed.

    These provisions have been incorporated in the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, which is currently at report stage in the Lords. I would imagine it would become law sometime late May or June. It states that if a vote of no confidence is passed in the Government and 14 days then pass without a vote of confidence in a Government (new or old), a general election is called. The only other way to have an early general election is for two thirds of the Commons to vote for one – the Prime Minister’s power to request one at will from the Monarch is removed.

    Incidentally, one of the side effects of this Bill is that it will make a break up of the coalition much easier once passed. The decision if a government can be formed and from whom will be completely in the hands of the Commons and there will be no risk of causing a constitutional crisis. So politicians will be able to decide what to do without the worry of dragging the Palace into things and the resultant unpredictability.

  32. Presumably the new legislation would still leave a path for a government with 2/3rds parliamentary support to “no confidence itself” and therefore trigger a General Election, if that’s what the leadership wanted to do.

    Pretty unlikely scenario, given the rise of the smaller parties in recent years. But Blair’s initial victory in 1997 left him with command of only just under 2/3rds of the House.

  33. @ Alec

    “I’ve seen two tacky plastic flags outside one house”

    To my complete surprise in two of the poorest areas of Liverpool (Old Swan and Speeke) I saw more flags than in the rest of the city. Tells you a lot I suppose.

    To some degree it is a miniature reflection, I think, of what we see in the polls: changing values and struggle of values. Plus the dreary life of many, many people in the country who are going out of their way to share some sort of happiness (not only the tomorrow museum visiting of Westminster and Buckingham Palace) and some sort of longing for a never (for a couple of hundred years) existed community.

    Very odd, very eirie, quite moving and, being what I am, quite confusing.

  34. @ Roger Mexico

    Thanks for the summary. Very useful.

    Now, the only question remains, when do the LIbDems recognise that from the point of view of voting the question is really: whether quitting or not quitting reduces the time of forgetfulness (or forgiveness?) of the electorate. Or to be more precise: how would quitting be perceived in simple adjectives – because whatever happens in the next few years, will not benefit the junior coalition members. So, thus quitting reduces the time or adds to the time.

    I can only say that in the NorthWest and in (at least) some parts of London there is – I’m sorry, but there is no other way to say it – plain and enduring hatred against the LibDems is dominant (and some parts of the NorthWest is Liberal and LibDems), discussed and disseminated by the general public.

  35. Well I can’t speak for Liverpool, but my street is actually buzzing with excitement about the party tomorrow (well, later today). And I have a bevy of children, mostly teenagers, descending on our house to watch the Big Event on the telly before the party gets started.

    I think when you analyse the reaction to Royal events, you should do so not just through a prism of privilege, tradition and small-c conservativism, but also increasingly through the prism of celebrity culture. After all, this is Diana’s son we’re talking about. Elton John and David Beckham will be there. Ellie Goulding’s singing at the reception.

    Don’t think “affirmation of traditional British values”. Think “reality television”.

    That’s not to say that small-c conservatism won’t get a little filip from the Royal Wedding. Part of the value monarchists ascribe to the institution is its ability to bring people together. Tomorrow it will do just that for a lot of people (although not many of you here I’d wager) and they won’t forget that in a hurry.

  36. On the subject of web ads, it’s worth pointing out that site owners don’t usually even know what ads will appear (though I think they can decide not to take certain advertisers or types of ads.

    The placing of the ads also seems to be tailored to page content, so a post on AV might well automatically attract ‘NO to AV’ ads. At one time I always seemed to get Welsh dating ads whenever there was a post on polling in Wales.

    There also seem to be cookies that remember when you (probably inadvertently) clicked on an ad and then bombard you with it for weeks after. They also seem to target you based on where (they think) you are. Though chronic lack of geographic knowledge means on the Isle of Man I keep getting bombarded in Spanish, German, Finnish, Hungarian, …(Is Bank of Scotland still operating in Germany? An ad on PB just tried to sell me an account)

  37. @RogerH
    “It’s whole purpose seems to be designed to encourage voters to vote for a party which is not their first choice”

    Quite the opposite. It allows voters to place their fiirst choice at the top without fear of letting their least favourite in by default.”

    I fail to see how you can disagree with my comment and yet prove it to be true. AV encourages you to vote for a party which is not your first chioce, that is what a 2nd pref choice and a 3rd pref choice is all about.

    “The alternative preferences of those voters who voted for the eventual winner and the runner-up in AV are NEVER EVER counted”

    Nor should they be. AV preserves the principle of ‘One Person, One Vote’. Each voter ha a single, transferable vote. If your first preference is still in play then you don’t get to cast a second vote at the same time.

    I have not suggested you should count both the 1st and 2nd prefs of a voter at the same time. Of course you should only have 1 vote. I would prefer you always select the party of your choice, but that is the decision of each voter

    Tactical Voting and to a certain extent AV encourages you to vote negatively against a party. You can of course still do that with under FPTP, but in this case you sacrifice your own preferred choice. That is the penalty for voting for something you don’t fully support.

    AV not only encourages tactical voting but gives some a choice advantage with that single vote that is taken into account in the final result. That same choice advantage is NEVER taken into account for those who voted initially for the eventual winner and runner-up. For the eventual winner that is not a problem, as they have their 1st pref. But for the runner-up, just maybe his 2nd pref would have allowed a third candidate to win. It may even have produced a far more constituency-wide ‘acceptable’ candidate than the eventual winner.

    I produced a detailed scenario on a previous thread, which conclusively proved that this can occur.

    My own preference is for FPTP, but if that has to be changed then definitely PR would be my choice. I agree with NC that ‘AV is a squallid little system’. That is why it is so little used. Even in Australia there is wide discontent andwith two separate parties have a pre-election pact which means it is really a two party rather than a 3 party system for a good proportion of the seats.

  38. @Lazslo,

    I’d suggest that when emotions are running high, and words like “hate” are being bandied about, the LibDems are best advised to keep away from polling booths as much as they can.

    The public probably don’t have the stomach, or the attention span, to hate a political party for very long. There is an expression in the English law courts – “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”. The LibDems will probably be hoping that “Electoral Annihilation Delayed is Electoral Annihilation Denied”…

  39. Roger Mexico

    Bank of Scotland (other than nominally) stopped operating anywhere when it was taken over by Halifax. They just cut out the cost of three of their banking licences and left the BoS one with a nominal HQ in Edinburgh.

  40. @NeilA
    @Lazslo

    ‘I’d suggest that when emotions are running high, and words like “hate” are being bandied about, the LibDems are best advised to keep away from polling booths as much as they can.’

    These are very strong words and truely shocking. Much of it seems to be generated by Lab supporters who felt they had a divine right to be re-elected as the Government and take LD support for granted. They just have not come fully to terms with the Cons getting more votes and more seats than Lab. Well it happened and it’s about time Lab and its supporters grew up, accepted they don’t have the divine right to rule and moved on!

  41. @Robert C (4.24 pm)

    “2) If a more anti-Tory leader were elected, would any resulting break-up in the Coalition help us to implement Lib Dem policies or protect the long term interests of the party?”

    As a fellow Lib Dem member I have to disagree with your answer to the statement above. In the NE of England all that I hear and read is that voters are saying “I will never vote LD again”. Now I do believe that in time some or possibly all (if Labour screw up) may come back but if we continue supporting the Tories over the break up the the NHS then it will truly be the end of our party. As I have said in previous posts, I for one will only work for the party in local elections.

    IMO the reaction of Clegg et al to the NHS will be more important than AV or even the local elections re the future of the party. Failure to prevent privatisation of the NHS will split the active party completely.

  42. OldNat

    I know BoS International (which runs the branch here) was folded into its LloydsTSB equivalent about six months ago. That’s why I surprised to be bombarded with tartan, pictures of Edinburgh Castle and ‘vertrauen seit 1695’.

  43. @ FrankG

    I’m not a Labour supporter (strictly speaking) so I don’t feel what you described.

    However, what I hear from many, many people from very different social groups (especially younger (up to 35 – a very peculiar age group) is very, very deep – emotional and not logical, and I would argue that very uncompromising (perhaps it’s a better word than hatred) – they are not those “Labour supporters”, but people who genuinely feel being let down.

  44. “because whatever happens in the next few years, will not benefit the junior coalition members.”

    I tend to agree though an argument from the Clegg loyalists is that if they hang on for the full 5 years it proves coalitions can work. What seems to have been glossed over is that they can indeed work but this might not be the best example of one for the voters to remember.

    Politics is a rough game and the pressures that build up in a government are multiplied in a coalition. Ask Cameron and Clegg if they would prefer to have a majority government of their own Party and if they are honest they will both say yes.

    Even Cameron, who has benefitted hugely from using Clegg as a human shield and used the Lib Dems to keep his eurosceptics and troublemakers on a tight leash, would still prefer to be master of his own fate.
    Would he have went through a time consuming and from his point of view pointless referendum if he had a choice ? Not a chance.
    Would he prefer to only have to worry about his own MPs instead of constantly having to second guess Cleggs as well ? Of course he would.

    Yet he isn’t going to have to worry about the Lib Dems much longer if the line Clegg and his Party take after May is we are stuck in this for 5 years and nothing can ever change that.

    I can’t think of a more damaging position for the Lib Dems take if they intend to have any influence whatsoever in the remaining time they are in government. Cameron will walk all over them.

    Unless EdM has a very good night it will be Cameron with the most to celebrate in Westminster on the 6th.

  45. @ Neil A

    For the benefit of the country I hope you are right about the forgetfulness of the people. However, if many of the electorates who voted for LibDems because of a kind of newly (from early 2010) found love relationship with them, justified in various “logical” ways and being felt let down in that relationship, it could change and they would have the stomach for sustained negative feelings.

    Teaching young adults (25-35 mainly) I feel that there has been a distinct change in emotional attitudes over the last 15 years.

  46. @ Neil A

    I agree with your summary on tomorrow’s (today’s) event. For very different reasons people want to “take part” – sorry anecdotal. After writing my post, a friend of mine, who knows my daily routine rang and said that they will be watching the event and they are republicans through and through. But they will fit in one of the categories you described.

  47. Peter Bell

    I think you’re completely right. The Lib Dems will only split from the coalition on matters of principle and policy. This is partly because it looks better and partly because of technicalities (a split that come from below would be enacted through Lib Dem Conference and policy is its main business); but mainly because of the sort of Party the Lib Dems are.

    After all someone who wanted a sure route to political power wouldn’t have joined them in the first place. They are also used to the downs as well as the ups of political fortune, so while an electoral disaster next week would shake them, it would not throw them off course by itself.

    I’d always predicted that the breaking point might be over control of the banks and the City, but Lansley’s proposals for the NHS look like they will preempt that. I can’t see any alternative to stopping the bill in its tracks, amending it will only make it even less workable. But that would not only be a tremendous embarrassment for the Tories, it would cause all sorts of problems due to the Department already being a long way into implementing the changes.

  48. @ Mick Park

    I agree. From the referendum (except for a big surprise) the Tories will come out victorious.

    Labour must have a successful night (even if Scotland clouds it over) in the local elections – it would complete the operation against the LibDems as the LibDems are more dependent on councillors than the other two big parties, both in personnel and financially. Once it happens, they can turn the attention to the Conservatives now for real – however, I don’t think they are ready for that (except for the economy, but the message there is so oversimplified that they have to wait for the release of statistical figures – they don’t have the narrative), but contrary to the opinion of many Labour supporters here and elsewhere, it’s not too complicated to be ready, does not require extensive research and communication. It requires throwing off the defensive behaviour that comes through in all kinds of way (and extensively fuelled by the Conservatives, rather cleverly) – the rest is common knowledge.

  49. @peter bell

    You are very honest. As a red activist in SE Wales I confirm your views on doorstep opinion. NE England and S Wales are similar ie traditional Labour supporting areas where significant numbers of fed-up Labour voters took a trip with the LibDems last May. Never dreaming that they would help elect a Tory-led Government. They are seriously p****d off with the result. I almost feel sorry for Cleggy. I mean OK he broke a promise the NUS got him to make on tuition fees never dreaming he would have to keep it. As a result he is now a hate figure. Politics is a dirty business. If I am honest (rather than partisan) the LibDems may have saved us from the rabid right wing policies which Osborne, Pickles & Co would inflict given half the chance. But amazingly the LibDems (and not the Tories) are punished for this at least in the short term. Meanwhile my half of the reds will vote down AV (in my case for the same reason as Michael Portillo – that its no fairer than FPTP). I think Clegg’s problem is that he is naive – fatal in politics. He actually thought that because Labour had put an AV
    referendum in its “au revoir” manifesto that Lab + LibDem = yes to AV ! He then spends 12 months attacking the Labour Party in every speech he makes … and is amazed to find that despite Ed Miliband’s pirncipled support for AV, 60% of the Party is against him. So predictable. DC must think Christmas has come early, But……

    @mick park

    I don’t think DC will have THAT much to crow about come 6th May. He’ll have lost a lot of seats and Councils in England. Labour will have an absolute majority in Wales. Scotland is up in the air, but the one thing we know for certain is that the Tories will gain next to nothing. OK AV will be lost because my half of the Labour Party voted the crazy idea down. If that sends DC to bed a happy man, he is easily satisified !

  50. @ Old Nat

    “My reason for posting anonymously was purely commercial. When you were bidding for contracts from Labour controlled councils, it was unwise also to be known as a Nat!

    While I don’t have to do it now, since I retired, I use the same moniker on all the sites that I post, and people wouldn’t learn anything new about me if I changed to my real name.”

    That’s a shame. I want to say that doesn’t happen here because that sort of action violates the First Amendment but I have a feeling that it probably does happen (and happens more often than realized). One thing that does happen every so often, and almost as offensive as patronage, is when government contracts are handed out based on favoritism towards friends and big campaign donors.

    That was one of the many offensive things that was done during the Dubya administration….no-bid government contracts for projects in Iraq handed out to companies (that were usually highly incompetent) who happened to have executive boards who were close friends with Dubya.

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