Leader: Time to put an end to guddle and muddle over AV vote
AFTER the initial post-election optimism over the new politics of the Liberal Democrat and Conservatives forming a government comes the harsh reality of coalition, epitomised by the policy over the proposed referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV).
As we report today, the plans to hold a referendum on voting reform on the same day as the Holyrood elections now face opposition by both Labour and Tory peers, with blood-curdling pledges to "massacre" the idea when it comes to the Lords.
On top of the threats from the Upper House, which in normal circumstance can only delay but not veto legislation, comes Labour's shadow cabinet decision to oppose the bill containing the AV referendum proposal.
This move has more than a hint of political opportunism about it, with the official opposition scenting Tory and Lib Dem ministerial blood, as more than 40 Conservative MPs now say they are against the plans.
Labour's move adds further to the growing sense of coaltion-induced disorder which the AV plan has induced. Bizarrely, it is a measure being taken through parliament to introduce a system which no party actually supports.
Labour, under Gordon Brown, was in favour of supporting AV at the election, but says it is now against the refendum bill as a whole, because it also contains moves to equalise the size of constituencies south of the Border, something it says will favour the Tories.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems are pressing ahead with AV, even though they believe that it is barely a proportional system at all, and they really support the single transferrable vote (STV).
The Tories are committed, through their coalition agreement, to voting for the legislation but will campaign against AV in a referendum, if it ever happens, as they believe in first-past-the-post.
As for the Scottish National Party, they are against the referendum on the same day as Holyrood elections on the grounds of voter confusion, a dubious claim which belittles the voters but which hides their fear that they might lose out if the AV campaign was more prominent than Scotland's elections.
It is a guddle, wrapped up in a muddle, inside the enigma that is the first coalition government at Westminster since the war. It is little wonder voters are baffled and confused.
More than that, the electorate will be justifiably angry when they see politicians of all parties - none are innocent here when their direct electoral interest is threatened - embroiled in a debate over policies none supports when there are much greater tasks to undertake: tackling the UK's debt and deficit being the most important.
As we have stated before, we do not believe that Scottish voters are incapable of distinguishing between two subjects on voting day. What is of more fundamental concern is the fact that no party actually advocates the electoral reform being proposed. Set in this context, the conclusion is obvious: we do not need a referendum on this unloved and unwanted voting system.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East