Is Cameron planning to “betray” his party over AV?

Is Cameron planning to “betray” his party over AV?


Are we seeing another OES-type move to help Nick?

Andrew Grice in the Independent is reporting this morning that there’s growing concern in Tory ranks over what David Cameron might be planning over electoral reform .

He writes: “There are growing fears among Tory backbenchers that some Cameron allies would be privately relaxed about a Yes vote in the referendum, since it would give Mr Clegg a big prize and almost certainly ensure that the Coalition lasted until the next election in 2015. In contrast, a No vote could provoke demands from some Liberal Democrat activists for the party to pull out of the Coalition.

Tory traditionalists also fear a switch to AV would increase the chances of a permanent alliance between the two Coalition parties, as favoured by some Tory modernisers. Under this system, people mark the candidates in order of preference – the last-placed person drops out and second preferences are redistributed until one candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Traditionalists believe the introduction of AV would lead to an informal anti-Labour pact, under which Mr Cameron encouraged Tory supporters to make the Liberal Democrats their second choice, with Mr Clegg urging his party’s backers to put the Tories in second place.”

Certainly Cameron did not help his relationship with his fiercest party critics by his decision to soft-pedal in last month’s Old & Sad by election and this inevitably fuels fears. Could he be about to do the same with the referendum?

All the polling that there’s been suggests that Tory voters are most opposed to the change. Would they be influenced by Cameron not giving a NO campaign his all? I’m not so sure.

An issue, of course, is that the big argument that electoral reform would lead to hung parliaments and weak governments has been been hit on the head by the way the coalition has worked. This is, arguably, a much more stable government than would have been the case if Cameron had won a majority of ten or twenty.

Mike Smithson

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