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Referendum Plus

This series takes us from the day when the date for the AV referendum was leaked to the press (July 2, 2010), through the No and Yes! campaigns with their bottom-up passion and energy, to the emergence of the Purple People, the frantic last weeks and the resounding No vote, and finally to the reflections - many bitter and frustrated - on the management and co-ordination of a lost chance for democratic reform. 

Arguably the AV referendum has killed British interest in electoral reform at least for a generation. It turned many more away from the pursuit of political reform via Westminster, accelerating an already current trend. The rejection, and the argument that the referendum terms already predicated defeat, forced the Liberal Democrats to examine their purpose and role as junior partners in the Coalition. With global perspectives, incisive analysis, historical overviews, striking personal testament and intimate reflection, the series takes the reader through the ups and downs of what was Britain's first chance since 1997 to significantly change the system by which the UK elects its representatives. 

See the short series Britain after 5 May for immediate reaction to the referendum vote. 


The AV referendum disaster: here's how the 'Yes' money was spent

The 'Yes' campaign for the Alternative Vote was disastrously mismanaged. Here is a first look at where the money went.

A Lib Dem view of the AV referendum disaster

Another account of the Yes to AV referendum campaign calls for lessons to be learned. Will they be?

The AV debacle, the waste of nearly £2M and the Rowntree Reform Trust

The Yes to AV referendum campaign was a fiasco. Supporters of reform - activists, funders and voters - deserve an explanation. A public enquiry should be launched by JRRT, who took a leading role both in funding and organising the failed campaign

From the expenses scandal to AV: the end of a political cycle and how to move on

The expenses scandal brought forth various demands for political reform. The AV referendum can be seen as the end of this political cycle. Even if electoral reform is now off the agenda, progressives should reflect on this experience, and begin a new push for change

Whatever the result, the AV referendum won't end the struggle for electoral reform

Today's referendum on AV is the culmination of a long campaign for change. Yet, AV is not a form of proportional representation and is not a system which reformers have previously called for. Whatever the referendum result, it will not end the campaign for electoral reform in the UK

The final Yes rally had a winning spirit, but will Britain vote for AV tomorrow?

The Yes campaign's final rally last night showed spirit, energy and intellect. While Eddie Izzard may have been the 'headline act', an unexpected address from Ed Miliband almost stole the show, along with Armando Iannucci's wise witticisms. Let's hope the opinion polls are overturned tomorrow!

Intelligence Squared AV debate

On 26th April, Intelligence Squared staged a preliminary debate with the motion 'Vote for AV'. Here, OurKingdom publishes a video of the debate highlights.

Is AV the last hope for British democracy?

If the Prime Minister has his way, British civil society will soon be almost entirely at the mercy of the market. With the contracts signed, our democratic options will be drastically limited. A referendum on the Alternative Voting system may already be too little, too late.

The strange world of the AV campaign, and why it must be a Yes

It has been said that AV would be a “beautiful British compromise”. But for its combination of madness, naked lies and bile, the campaign surrounding it has seemed distinctly American. The Yes side, on which I sit, has been slightly dull. The Noes have been fascinating, not only for their outrageous campaigning methods, but for their surreal patchwork of supporters.

What if the Referendum is a 'No'

A Green laments the likely defeat of the AV referendum

Vote 'Yes' for a change

At a London debate the argument for changing Britain's voting system was narrowly voted down and OurKingdom's Co-Editor was on the losing side. What he said was drawn from this long draft.

Nick Clegg scores an own goal for the Yes to AV campaign

Branded as too toxic for the Yes campaign, Nick Clegg had long been quiet on AV, until yesterday's speech at IPPR. Despite arguing that the referendum should transcend party politics, the Deputy Prime-Minister proceeded to play into the hands of the No campaign by defending the Coalition and his role in it

AV is suited to the modern British voter

The Alternative Voting system is best suited to modern Britain, says a new IPPR report. Voters today are less tribal, and want more choice. AV gives voters today the flexibility to express themselves in a way denied them by the current FPTP system

Under AV, Nick Clegg's position is the future of British politics

The Alternative Vote will not deliver more pluralism in British politics. Political competition will still converge around a median, it's just that the position of the median will change to something like Orange-book liberalism. Choose AV, and British politics will converge around Nick Clegg's position AV, like FPTP, is incompatible with Britain's pluralist society AV is not a distant but pluralist relative of FPTP. They are twins

Democracy by machines or morals? Why the AV referendum matters to the Left

The future of the centre left in Britain is dependent on the AV referendum result. A Yes vote would open the doors to a new politics, fit for a fluid, decentralised world. This is Labour's opportunity to shake off a deadly, elitist culture and embrace pluralism, dialogue and democracy

The AV counting method undermines its raison d'etre

The method by which AV votes are counted makes it impossible to assess which winning candidates enjoy the genuine support of the majority. Therefore the parliamentary majorities produced by AV will be more unreliable, contestable and illegitimate than under the present system of First Past the Post.

Yes to AV! campaign says it with postcards

A new ‘Yes to AV’ site has just been launched. This is an independent site with loads of Yes2AV e-postcards to choose from. You can send the appropriate postcard to the appropriate person you know, in a bid to enthuse them about voting Yes on May 5.

NO campaign leaving YES to AV in the dust?

Are the 'No' to AV campaign in the forthcoming British referendum gaining the upper hand thanks to ruthless negative adverts?

Say no to AV; Britain needs an entirely new system

Our current First Past the Post voting system is failing us. Unfortunately, the Alternative Vote is not the answer. AV promotes centrist politics, shuts out smaller parties and encourages unhelpful constituency alliances. We should advocate a a new system for Britain, combining proportional representation with constituency links for MPs.

On the Alternative Vote, who speaks for history?

After a provocative letter telling Times readers that 'history teaches us to vote no to AV', a response was coordinated by other historians who together cried 'not in my name'. The two letters are reproduced here along with commentary by Daniel-Joseph MacArthur-Seal, who helped organise the response, on the feeling among historians.

Why the AV campaign really will matter

Pollsters have detected a voting pattern on the AV question, which new YouGov research explains. Voters are more likely to back AV when asked cold, and to favour First Past The Post when they are warmed up with questions or information about the change.

An essential guide to electoral reform

Patrick Dunleavy finds essential reading for academics in the run up to the AV referendum in Alan Renwick’s recent book.

Before the referendum tomorrow, ask what devolution has done for Wales

The result of the Welsh Assembly referendum will not only decide whether the assembly gains significant legislative powers; it will also be a verdict on the success or failure of devolution. In the following article, Aled Edwards argues that post devolution Wales has become a more inclusive and welcoming nation, defined by a commitment to equal opportunities and human rights.

The 'No to AV' campaign is preying on fear

What a nasty invidious campaign the ‘No to the Alternative Vote’ side are running. From the opening shot of David Cameron’s speech to the offensive sensationalism of the current adverts, this is a negative campaign armed with lies and preying upon ignorance and fear. Confusion, muddy the waters,

The Welsh Assembly powers referendum will be won or lost in the housing estates

Hywel Francis MP, the former chair of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee and supporter of the Yes campaign, sets out the state of play in the run-up to the March 3 referendum on extending the powers of the Welsh Assembly.

Electoral reform dilemmas: are Britain's single-member constituencies out of date?

If parliament is to shift from representing places to representing people, we may have to leave single-member constituencies by the way side, explains Matthew Roberts. This paper is published courtesy of History & Policy

The road to self-determination starts with AV

As the date of the AV referendum is confirmed, Anthony Barnett looks back to a speech he made, urging the Durham Union to vote for change.

A leaked "No to AV" letter from William Hague is dissected by a Yes! campaigner

The below letter from William Hague to fellow Conservatives, urging them to help the party ensure a vote against AV in the May 5 referendum, was leaked yesterday to Rupert Read. A supporter of the Yes! campaign, Read delivers a blow-by-blow response.

YES campaign celebrate the AV Referendum go-ahead

The bill introducing a referendum on the alternative vote finally made its way through the Lords last night. Today, at sunrise, the YES! campaign celebrated by making Trafalgar Square purple.

AV means you can stick to First Past the Post if you really want to!

An epicycle in the arguments for the Alternative Vote in the coming UK referendum, it permits you to only vote once just like now!

Labour’s filibustering and the consequences for political reform

The filibustering by Labour peers of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill is having two unintended side-effects of importance to the future of political reform. Firstly, it has brought Tory and Lib Dem peers together; second, Labour has cementing its reputation for backing away from electoral reform at the last minute.

The House of Lords is right to challenge the Coalition on where we vote

A new Labour Peer attacks the spirit and methods of the Coalition's attempt to re-draw the UK's constituencies and rush a referendum on the voting system even though he favours the principles of reform

First Past the Post: a damning report on a system that 'fails the fairness test'

A damning report on the first past the post voting system has been released by ippr. Clare Coatman, of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, introduces the report.

On the fifth day Britain's Coalition was Created and...

Is the Lib Dem negotiator David Laws being tendentious in his account of how the Coalition came about in May? A Labour insider reports that it is economical with the truth.
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