Thursday, 29 June 2017

Referendum News No. 3

WHO’S WHO?

Part 2 – THE OFFICIAL CAMPAIGNS

YES TO FAIRER VOTES (http://www.yestofairervotes.org/)

Although backed by the leaders of the Labour Party (Ed Milliband) and the Liberal Democrats (Nick Clegg) the group organisers have gone to great pains to downplay political support. Their launch for example was packed full of ‘celebrities’ from Eddie Izzard to Kriss Akabusi to Greg Dyke (and many more pledging support). Ironically the referendum only came about as the price for Liberal Democrat support for the Coalition but, recognising the unpopularity of politicians, especially Nick Clegg, they have shrewdly downplayed their involvement.

Whilst the Labour and Conservative parties are divided it is generally backed by most small parties and reformers as, although not a proportional system, it is felt that some reform is better than none, especially since it is nearly 100 years since MP’s have had to face any meaningful changes. Most see AV as a ‘stepping stone’ rather than an end in itself. Unsuprisingly, campaigning has largely concentrated on well worn slogans such as Making votes count i.e. no wasted votes, Fairness i.e. as to who is elected, and Change (from an oudated system). All could be used to promote support for a PR system which we feel most campaigners would if given the choice? Apart from some State funding which both sides get, the campaign is financially backed by the Electoral Reform Society and the social reformist Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. All in all a light, open and enthusiastic campaign pulling together electoral reformers of all hues and goals desperate for some form of change.

NO TO AV (http://www.no2av.org/)

The group’s backers are much more difficult to pin down. They seem primarily to be Conservatives with a little and large C. Their launch was quite low key and their supporters low-grade politicians. The majority of the Conservative and Labour MP’s support a NO vote (fearful for their seats?) as do most Trade Unions. Unlike the YES camp however political supporters seem more content with promoting the NO vote via their own groups e.g. PM David Cameron launched his own party’s NO campaign. The Campaign Director Matthew Elliot also runs the right wing pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Their campaign largely consists of running ‘scare’ stories against change e.g. AV will cost an extra £250m and slogans rather than analysis in favour of the present system e.g. One person One vote.

Their financial backers are even more shadowy. One Conservative peer, Lord Edmiston, has been quoted as donating “a significant sum”. We guess others will have a similar background.

Although the NO campaign is well connected in the media and has access to funds it doesn’t have the enthusiasm of the YES campaigners. Many more activists are likely to be out on the streets from the YES side. How this will play out in May is any body’s guess but we feel that the the YES camp is more motivated to vote and should carry the day?

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