James Forsyth

Waiting on AV

Waiting on AV
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Every conversation I have about the durability of the Coalition comes back to the AV referendum. The conventional wisdom is that if AV is defeated then it will be very hard for Clegg to keep his party in. For this reason, people pay extremely close attention to the Tory leadership’s attitude to AV. We are waiting to see if there is even a hint that Cameron is prepared to soften his position on the issue to strengthen the Coalition.  

So Danny Finkelstein’s blog this morning suggesting that ‘AV might provide the answer to the otherwise impossible question - if the parties stay together, how can they fight the election apart?’ has caused quite a stir.  

The argument is that the Tories would urge their voters to put the Lib Dems as second choice and vice-versa. If this ploy worked — and the Australian evidence Danny cites suggests it would — then AV would hurt Labour not the Tories.  

Finkelstein is, of course, a columnist not a politician. But he used to work for the Tory party and with George Osborne; few commentators can claim to understand the strategic thinking of the current Tory high command as well as Finkelstein does. So the question is: are they thinking, what he’s thinking?