As became apparent soon after the first results came in, the referendum on the Alternative Vote would be lost by a majority of more than two to one – a thumping defeat if ever there was one. And that is a source of deep regret for this newspaper, which has consistently supported the cause of electoral reform. But the rejection was not quite universal. Of the 440 electoral districts, a select 10 – that is 2.2 per cent – voted Yes. So let's hear it for Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh Central and Glasgow Kelvin, as well as the London boroughs of Camden, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth and Southwark. Here, the Alternative Vote convincingly carried the day.
The particular reasons why these places voted as they did will doubtless be studied long and hard by psephologists and demographers, and they will provide material for many a doctoral thesis in years to come. But it is hard to escape the impression that these 10 districts between them represent apretty formidable concentration of brain power and diversity of all kinds. Could it be, perhaps, that we are looking here at a bold intellectual and political vanguard that may one day be vindicated? If so, Oxford, Cambridge and the rest are not unrepresentative so much as ahead of their time.