7 Apr 2011

Alternative vote: alternative outcome

You’ll be hearing quite a few times from David Cameron and Nick Clegg on AV – against and for, respectively – in the next four weeks. As things stand, I understand, you won’t hear another dickey-bird from Ed Miliband. Well, there won’t be any set-piece speeches anyway. He’s done the cross-party Yes to AV event, the Labour for AV event and that’s it. His focus, team members say, is on the local elections now.

If he delves into our YouGov poll tonight – you can see a report on it on Channel 4 News and read the poll HERE – he might feel it’s not such a bother if his side loses the referendum. Ed Miliband used the Yes to AV launch to resurrect the long-held idea that there’s a progressive majority in the country and a change in the electoral system would help to entrench it in power – code for: Labour will pick up Lib Dem second preferences and get in.

But right now, the remaining Lib Dem vote is not only smaller it’s less Labour/left leaning. In our poll, the second preferences fall more for the Tories. Labour is actually harmed by AV. The Tories pick up more UKIP 2nd preferences too. Under First Past the Post, according to our poll, the General Election result would be:

LABOUR                 355 MPs
LIB DEMS               16 MPs

Under AV, the result would be

LABOUR                  342 MPs
LIBDEMS                 29 MPs

Might not look very different but it would be (counting in other parties) the difference between a Labour majority of 60 and a Labour majority of 34 … a dent of that order come the time of the next election could be the difference between joy and sadness for Labour.

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