Opponents of electoral reform suffered embarrassment last night after wrongly claiming that a senior Cabinet minister would play a prominent role in the drive for a "no" vote in next year's referendum.
They named Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, as a patron of the "No to AV" campaign. But a spokesman for the minister told The Independent that Mr Gove was "undecided about the issue" and there had been a "misunderstanding" over his involvement.
The 5 May referendum will ask voters whether they want to keep the first-past-the-post system for electing MPs or to replace it with the alternative vote (AV), under which candidates are ranked in order of preference. The president of the "no" campaign was named last night as Margaret Beckett, the former Foreign Secretary. She will be joined by four other Labour veterans – Lord Prescott, Lord Reid, Lord Falconer, and David Blunkett. Three Tory Cabinet ministers will be campaign patrons – William Hague, Kenneth Clarke, and Baroness Warsi.
The heavyweight line-up – described by No to AV as "titans of the British political system" – is evidence the campaign to retain the status quo will be highly-organised.
Supporters of a yes vote intend to portray themselves as the "people against the political establishment".