openDemocracyUK

Funny, but the Tories could be having second thoughts on AV

The Conservatives oppose changing the UK's election system to the Alternate Vote in the coming referendum. But now the prospect of losing becomes attractive as AV could give the Coalition five more years.
Stuart Weir
3 November 2010

It's a funny old world, as Margaret Thatcher once observed.... Intelligent Tories are just catching up on the advantages for them and their coalition partners of the alternative vote, just as the referendum has won approval in Parliament.  Both parties see that they will need to sharpen their political profiles in advance on an election in 2015.  But how to conduct their election tactics?  First past the post is full of pitfalls for both, as it is these days very fickle, and they think it will still favour Labour even after boundary revisions; and neither party can contemplate standing down in seats which their coalition partner holds, or has hopes of winning.  But AV circumnavigates the difficulties.  Each party can ask its voters to vote first for them, and secondly for the other.

Between them, Blair and Brown fumbled a historic opportunity to form a centre-left partnership with the Lib Dems; and Brown has perhaps sold the pass for a more permanent coalition on the centre right, or even just the right.  Of course Cameron will still campaign for first past the post in the referendum; and party workers are not for turning.  But losing the referendum now is increasingly seen as attractive to many Conservatives - an opportunity rather than a loss.

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