David Blackburn

A month to go and still none the wiser

It’s supposed to be the day of rest, but there’s no rest for the wicked. The two sides of the alternative vote referendum have been exchanging blows all day. It seems the pro-AV camp have purged black poet Benjamin Zephaniah from some of their leaflets. Apparently, Zephaniah is all present and correct on leaflets sent to London addresses; but he has been apparently replaced by Tony Robinson in those sent to Sussex and Cornwall.

The No campaign has described its opponents as “ashamed” of Mr Zephaniah’s colour, and the Yes campaign said the allegation was a “new low”. It’s six of one and half of dozen of the other, and we’re still no better informed about either system. 

This was just one of the day’s many squabbles. Eddie Izzard and Robert Winston swapped bon mots with Andrew Marr on their divergent views, and Cranmer has evidence that some Ukippers are up to no good. And then there is the relentless money saga: the Yes campaign’s doubtful financial arrangements and practices have been exposed; the No camp won’t reveal the source of their funding. For further incidents, John Rentoul and Andrew Rawnsley devote their excellent Sunday columns to the degenerating campaigns.

A surreal pantomime is emerging from the morass of this referendum. Miliband and Clegg are the two prominent leaders in favour of AV who won’t share a stage together. On the side, Baroness Warsi’s only tactic is to gab about the moribund BNP; to which her opponent, Chris Huhne, responds by comparing to her Goebbels, which is both puerile and preposterous: Dr. Goebbels was evil incarnate, but he could communicate. This referendum, the result of which will be determine the election of future government, has turned into political theatre of the absurd.

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