James Forsyth

The AV referendum hasn’t captured the public’s imagination

The AV referendum hasn't captured the public's imagination
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It is odd to think that in just a few months we’ll be having only the second nationwide referendum in our history and no one is particularly excited about it. This is largely because the plebiscite is on AV, an unloved voting system that is a half-way house between first past the post and a proportional system. (Just imagine the level of conversation there would be if the vote was to do with Europe not electoral reform).

At the moment, the yes side has a growing lead in the polls http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/3115. But, given the vast number of undecideds, this could change very quickly. The No campaign, though, will have to come up with some clearer, crisper messages to turn the tide.

The referendum will only go ahead in May if the bill clears parliament this week. This is going to require some late night sittings in both the Lords and the Commons, there are already four amendments introduced in the Lords that the coalition is committed to over-turning.

Two things to watch this week are whether Labour is prepared to risk delaying the referendum, something that would further sour relations with the Liberal Democrats, and how many Tory backbenchers will back Norman Lamont’s call (£) for the Commons to leave in the Lord’s amendment calling for the vote to be valid only if turnout is forty percent or above.