James Forsyth James Forsyth

How the recriminations over AV’s defeat will change the debate over Lords reform

It is odd to think that only the second national referendum in our history is only five days away. The combination of the Royal Wedding and the failure of the campaign to grip the public imagination has condemned it to being ‘In Other News’, on this the final weekend before the vote.

At the moment, No appears to be cruising to victory. The Yes campaign lacks both message and momentum. I also suspect that, asPaul Goodman says, the rest of the week will see debate about why it has all gone so wrong for Yes.

One thing I expect we will hear a lot of in the coming days is electoral reformers bemoaning that they went for a referendum on AV rather than a proportional system. In private, they are already complaining that AV was too much of a fudge, a halfway house to sell to the public and that they would have been better off trying to make the case for a big bang change.

Personally, I don’t think they would have won whatever system they had gone for. But this debate will have a knock on effect on the one over House of Lords reform. With Clegg being urged to demand a 100 percent—not 80 percent—elected second chamber.

I understand that Clegg is coming round to this idea but knows that it would spark a dispute in Cabinet; the PM is not in favour of a fully elected Lords. So Clegg might propose that the matter be put to the Commons on a free vote in government time, to try and force the issue.

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