The AV referendum campaign has begun in earnest. Labour MP Tom Harris – one of the loudest opponents of reform - has produced this poster:
As predicted, the message is very anti-politics playing on the idea that reform will hand power to politicians and take it away from ordinary people. The gall of it is quite astonishing. As we’ve seen time and time again it's first past the post and its system of “safe” seats that breeds corruption, arrogance and complacency amongst our MPs. By ensuring MPs who get a plurality of votes have to start worrying about people’s 2nd preferences AV would reduce the number of safe seats, as Rupert Read points out. It would take power away from the managers of the two main parties and hand it to voters who would be given more choice and freedom.
MPs like Tom Harris hate the idea of any kind of reform because it threatens their safe seat fiefdoms and makes it much easier for voters to gang up to get rid of them. The irony of Harris using a “populist” message like this won’t be lost on those familiar with his elitist, top-down view of democracy, but I’ve a feeling this is exactly the kind of message that will resonate with the public. So the "Yes" campaign needs to act quickly to make sure the anti-establishment terrain isn’t taken by those whose real agenda is to protect the status quo.
Andy May, my colleague at Take Back Parliament, has whipped up this effort by way of response:
What do you think? Could you do better?
We’re looking for your poster designs and ideas – post your design on your blog and paste the link in the comments or send them to [email protected].
The latest polls show that the race is narrowing with the initial 10% lead enjoyed by AV amongst the public gone. It’s still early days of course, but reformers need to get our skates on if we’re going to win this referendum.
The best poster will win £20 and feature prominently in grassroots campaigning.
Best of luck!