No2AV plays the Nick Clegg card

It was obvious that No2AV were going to play the Nick Clegg card at some point. Seeing as he’s now one of the most unpopular men in Britain, tying him to the AV campaign was going to be something they would do, in the absence of any coherent arguments about why we should keep First Past the Post.

Nick Clegg’s approval ratings, which were higher than Winston Churchill before the general election, have been falling steadily ever since. The latest polling suggests that Clegg’s approval rating stands at -34, with 28% thinking he’s performing well and 62% thinking he’s doing badly.

Most importantly from the referendum campaign’s point of view is that Nick Clegg is immensely unpopular with Labour voters.

In my view, the result of the referendum will be decided by the proportion of Labour voters that decide to vote Yes or No. Most Tories are going to vote No, most Lib Dems will vote yes, with Labour being split on the issue. How their members vote will therefore probably decide the result.

Clegg’s approval ratings amongst Labour voters is a comically bad -87, with only 5% thinking he’s performing well and 92% badly. No wonder Ed Miliband has asked Nick Clegg to take a step back from the Yes campaign and avoid being its poster boy.

This makes good sense, though the thought of Ed Miliband being Yes2AV’s poster boy instead doesn’t exactly fill me with joy and happiness.

So, now to No2AV’s advert:

A Labour-supporting friend I showed the advert to said, “This is REAL?! I thought it was a parody.” That tells you all you need to know about it, I think.

It does seem like a parody, mainly because its claims are wild bollocks hyperbolic nonsense.

Duncan Stott has already written about a few of them, but I’ll expand with a bit of detail below.

1) Nick Clegg won’t be Lib Dem leader forever

At the rate things are going, he might not even be an MP in 2015. He’s MP for Sheffield Hallam, the only seat in South Yorkshire not held by Labour, and was elected courtesy of a large student vote. Something tells me that students and young people aren’t going to be so keen to vote for the Cleggmeister in the next election.

2) AV doesn’t mean the Lib Dems will get more seats

The advert indicates that the Lib Dems will automatically benefit from AV. To explode that myth you only need to look at the polling data. The latest Yougov poll puts the Lib Dems on 10%. And that’s a surge in the polls, by their standards.

The Lib Dems have consistently been the second preferences of many voters, particularly Labour voters, but I cannot see that remaining the case now. Also, as the Yougov polling data I linked to indicates, they have lost more than half of their first preference voters. Only 45% of people who voted Lib Dem in May still support them now, according to those latest figures.

I cannot believe that the No campaign have overlooked what ought to be a rather simple principle: that AV will only benefit the Lib Dems if people vote for them.

3) AV does not lead to more hung parliaments

As discussed before on this blog, there’s no evidence that AV leads to an increase in the number of hung parliaments.

Indeed, it might have escaped the No camp’s attention, but we have a hung parliament at the moment, under First Past the Post. And it’s not the only one in living memory: take 1974 for example.

4) Nick Clegg does not decide who forms a government: we do

In May, when the polls were increasingly predicting a hung parliament, Nick Clegg said that he would enter coalition talks first with the party that had the biggest mandate. And he kept his word on that (again, not something you’ll read often these days). As I’ve written before, there was no way that the Lib Dems could have entered a coalition with Labour, because the numbers just weren’t there.

So even if we had a situation, as in May, where a hung parliament looked likely, it wouldn’t be Nick Clegg who decides whether there is a hung parliament, or who decides who enters into a coalition: it would be you. Me. Us. The voters.

If anyone is reading this from No2AV: well done. This latest advert is nowhere near as morally repugnant as the baby one. However, it’s preferable if campaign adverts:

a) Are not morally abhorrent.
b) Contain some facts that are, you know, true (yes I’m looking at YOU, the bogus £25om figure still included on the advert).
c) Contain a clear, principled argument.

I suppose 1 out of 3 is an improvement from 0 out of 3.

If anyone is reading this from Yes2AV: can we have some billboards of our own, please? Ones that conform to the three points I just listed would be even better.

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6 Responses to No2AV plays the Nick Clegg card

  1. Neal says:

    Had the 2010 election been run under AV the arithmetic WOULD have permitted Clegg a real choice. And he may well have chosen to keep Gordon as Prime Minister. No doubt that will sound attractive to many Yes campaigners, but it overlooks the fact that 65% of the population wanted him out.

    Also, why is it morally repuganant to point out that the costs of implementing AV could more usefully be spent elsewhere? Quiblle over the exact figure if you like, but you don’t get change for free.

    If I were running the No campaign I it isn’t what I woudl have lead on for a couple of reasons:

    1) If the Yes lot have managed to dupe you into thinking they are offering a “fairer” system then you’d probably think it was a price worth paying

    2) In terms of government spending, £250m is peanuts in any case.

    But not because is “morally abhorrent”.

    • Had the 2010 election been run under AV the campaign itself, and the votes for ALL parties (big and small) would be vastly different. People vote differently under different electoral systems, so we have no idea what would have happened.

      Pointing out the cost aspect isn’t morally repugnant, you’re right, but I’m not arguing that. What’s morally repugnant is using pictures of extremely ill, very young children to scaremonger.

      The cost is fictitious. The Treasury have said that no extra costs will be incurred if there’s a yes vote: And I’m guessing you agree it’s worth spending some money on our democratic process?

      What would the extra cost go on? Voter-counting machines? but there’s no plans to introduce them. Counting the votes? Vote counters are paid a fixed rate anyway, so there’d be no extra cost incurred there. Voter education? Probably, but that would be absolutely minimal, and could probably be incurred in the budget for the election anyway.

      And you’re quite right to say that £250m is a drop in the ocean of government spending, and that it probably is a bad line for the No campaign to take.

  2. Imogen Caterer says:

    If the 2010 election had been run under AV then the result would have been different to that predicted by the pundits for AV because pundits are always a bit out….

    However, even if we take the predictions as correct… Nick Clegg would have still started negotiation with the party with the largest mandate. Only if that couldn’t form a stable government would he have looked elsewhere.

    He might have more leverage in the discussion of policy – e.g. getting lower fees for students. But given 23% voting for him that would be reasonable.

    It is very, very dangerous for a third party to be seen to prop up a discredited and failed party or leader.

    As for Gordon Brown himself did Neal not notice what happened after the general election. Nick Clegg said he couldn’t work with Brown himself as he was so discredited. He said it wasn’t personal but Labour had long been on the brink of getting rid of him. Brown had called a member of the public a bigot for saying what a lot of people (sadly) say in supermarkets. He was personally implicated in Labour’s loss.

    Whatever AV throws up in those circumstances an unpopular Prime Minister is likely to be dispatched.

    Brown resigned as Labour leader. Brown resigned as Prime Minister. Cameron became Prime Minister. Only then did the coalition properly form.

    People used to tell terrible scare stories about coalitions and alleged overwhelming ability of the Liberal/Liberal Democrats to wield power and control.

    We still have a split personality view of this coalition some saying Clegg has too little power other far too much (soemtimes said in the same sentence).

    The truth is somewhere in between.

    Clegg put a party in power that was so very close to getting an overall majority. The choice was that or allow them to form a minority government put through some popular & short-term measures, call a General Election & get an overall majority.

    Sadly the result is that Labour blames Clegg for bringing in the Tories rather than recognize that there was a substantial rejection of what Labour stood for.

    I hope they will change that because I really want to see Labour as a party I could vote for, and that means facing that defeat head on.

    We used to hear terrible stories about what might happen in a hung parliament. E.g. negotiations going on for weeks. In the end it took 5 days and the money markets remained calm. We more than survived though.

    In 20 years time as we mark our 2nd preferences on the ballot paper we’ll think AV elections and their results are all perfectly normal, even though they normally produce one party government

  3. Pingback: An A-Z of rubbish arguments from No2AV « Paperback Rioter

  4. Pingback: An A-Z of rubbish arguments from No2AV (2nd edition) | Yes to Fairer Votes – Birmingham

  5. Pingback: The Results Are In, So Where Does This Leave Nick Clegg? « News Discontent

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