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.