Cable urges Labour support for AV

Business Secretary Vince Cable has urged Labour supporters to back the Alternative Vote (AV) in next month's referendum to help stop the Conservatives winning general elections.

He called on the "progressive majority" to get behind the reform to end the domination of Tory governments elected under first-past-the-post without the support of 50 per cent of the population.

His remarks are likely to inflame tensions between the Lib Dems and their Conservative coalition partners.

As well as making plain his wish for the Lib Dems and Labour to keep the Tories out of office, Mr Cable also questioned David Cameron's failure to prevent members of his party launching "brutal" attacks against Nick Clegg.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also try to make common cause with "progressive" Labour supporters today as he hits the campaign trail in Norwich ahead of the May 5 referendum on changing the voting system for Westminster elections.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Cable said it was time to complete the work of Liberal and Labour MPs who tried to introduce AV in the 1930s.

"Conservative governments have dominated ever since without securing a majority of the popular vote," he said.

"It's time for the progressive majority in the country to rise above this narrow tribalism and support this reform because we need to make sure the progressive majority wins elections in this century and not the Conservatives as they did, by the back door, for two-thirds of the last century."

The Business Secretary said he had been "alarmed" by an anti-AV campaign leaflet, promoted by a Tory councillor from Worcestershire, accusing Mr Clegg of breaking promises when he had "loyally supported coalition policies".

"I find it difficult to reconcile this leaflet attacking coalition economic policy with the fact that Mr Cameron is personally leading the No campaign and the leaflet is produced by a leading Tory donor.

"He may not directly control what his supporters are up to. But he must make it clear that he doesn't condone and will endeavour to stop personal attacks on his deputy for loyally supporting coalition policy.

"To stand by and let this happen is dangerous and puts considerable strain on the coalition. I haven't really reacted to this spat. But that leaflet was absolutely dreadful. It does take it on to a different level."

His views echo those of other senior Lib Dems, including the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and former leader Lord Ashdown, who feel Mr Clegg has been unfairly targeted by the Tories during the referendum campaign.

Asked about relations between the Tories and Lib Dems after the May 5 referendum, Mr Cable said it would work "in a professional and businesslike way to deliver an agreed agenda", but stressed: "That doesn't mean ideological alignment or an absence of policy disagreement and I am not into lovey dovey stuff either."

Mr Clegg, despite the Tory-Lib Dem alliance in Westminster, will say today that he would "rather side with progressives in all parties than the old establishment" - apparently referring to the Conservative Party.

In comments that risk being thrown back at him by his critics, he will also describe Labour figures who disagree with their leader Ed Miliband and oppose AV, as "the means to conservative ends".

"There is a proud history of progressive politics in the Labour Party, just as there is in the Liberal Democrats," he will say.

"A Yes vote would be a victory for progressive politics."

Mr Clegg will acknowledge he is "not exactly every Labour supporter's favourite politician right now, to put it mildly", but urge them to vote for "a real, progressive change to our democracy" in the referendum.

"There are those in the Labour Party who oppose AV. They are trying to block progress," he will go on.

"The John Prescotts, David Blunketts, John Reids and Michael Martins are in the bizarre situation of fighting a campaign that gets the vast majority of its funding from big Tory donors they have always criticised.

"Labour No campaigners are the means to conservative ends. Look at the company they are keeping. The only political parties supporting the status quo are the Conservative Party, the Communist Party and the BNP.

"The contrast with the cross-party Yes campaign speaks volumes. I would rather side with progressives in all parties than the old establishment and the lunatic fringe."

voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Java Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

SAP Functional Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000.

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn