Say what!? to AV

The debate over the alternative vote (AV) once again arose last week during the Conservative Party Spring Conference. Speeches made by Cameron, Osborne and Clarke all took time to criticize the upcoming referendum which is of course inevitable as this is something the Tories clearly do no want. In their favour however this is possibly the one compromise, of any, they had to make to gain power when compared to the compromises the Liberal Democrats have had to make. Despite this the Tories, along with the No to AV campaign, will have to fight against the Yes to AV campaign, the Liberals and Clegg who of course will have nothing to carry on governing for if this referendum is lost. Not only have the recent speeches brought the debate over AV back to the public spotlight it has also shown a glimpse of how little the leading Tories value Nick Clegg for: which is of course very little indeed.

Kenneth Clarke told conference in his speech that they should vote for AV if they wish to see ‘odder politics’. This was said due to the fact the Clarke believes AV will bring about more extreme politics, a change in the voting system is in his view is likely to give a platform for the smaller but more dangerous parties in our country. We cannot be sure of how true this is but it is of course a line of argument we will hear again and again from the Tories who clearly want to sway people against AV because the chance of them ever being elected again will be highly demolished if AV comes to be our new system.

George Osborne also took time in his speech to talk about AV, he began by saying that ‘on AV I agree with Nick’. For a second you would have been fooled into thinking he was about to support the Yes campaign but he then followed this up by stating that ‘it is, as he says, a miserable little compromise’. This was of course met with laughter and applause at the conference and again it is obvious as to why he is against this possible change. However this little joke could possibly indicate the true lack of respect that the leading Tories have for Nick Clegg. To use him as a but of a joke on a matter of policy that the Liberal Democrats have fought for over many years clearly shows the contempt they have for their Coalition partners.

This clearly begs the question of what is Nick Clegg getting out of being in this Coalition? If his parties long fought for reforms are not even taken seriously then why should he continue to allow the parties reputation to be ruined to help prop up the Conservatives? For all the comprises that have been made it has to be asked whether or not it has been worth it. The recent result in the Barnsley by-election demonstrates just how much anger is felt towards them and as such would seem to indicate that all their comprises have come at a huge cost.

With the referendum fast approaching in May the debate over AV temporarily rose again during the Tory spring conference. The Conservative position is of course an obvious one; a change in our voting system will seriously harm their chances of ever coming into power again and if AV was to come to be then this would be a major blow for them. However the recent reflection over AV also demonstrated how Nick Clegg is clearly not very much valued in this Coalition, to be the butt of the Chancellor’s jokes is deffiantley not a good sign of value or respect. After breaking their promises on the cuts, the VAT rise, trident and tuition fees this referendum represents the only possible advantage of being in this Coalition for the Liberal Democrats. If this referendum is lost then what cause will there be for the Liberal Democrats to continue on in this government?



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