David Blackburn

Clegg to be sidelined from AV campaign

Clegg to be sidelined from AV campaign
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The Sunday Times (£) has news that Nick Clegg will not front his party’s ‘Yes to AV’ campaign next May. This makes sense. The deluge of abuse he received in Bristol yesterday was another indication that many have fallen out love with Clegg. The Lib Dem leadership fear that if Clegg heads the campaign it will descend into a referendum on Clegg and his decision to form a coalition with the Tories.

That will probably transpire in any event, especially if Labour opposes the introduction of AV, which it looks set to do. It makes sense to protect the embattled Lib Dem leader from as much collateral damage as possible. Presumably that will extend to Lib Dem cabinet ministers, which suggests that Simon Hughes is likely to play a significant role.

Perhaps I’m being premature, but there is a sense that the Lib Dem leadership is not too bothered about the AV referendum. What was presented as an absolute requirement of any deal with the Liberal Democrats is, according to Clegg, ‘not the be all and end all’.      

PS: The Taxpayer's Alliance's Matthew Elliott will head the Tories 'No' campaign.