Leading article: There is no case for delay over electoral reform

Related Topics

Opponents of the referendum on electoral reform continue to clutch at straws. As Parliament broke up for the summer recess yesterday, 44 Conservative MPs signed a motion arguing that the referendum should not be held on the same day as elections next May in Scotland, Wales and in parts of England. The dissenters claim the combination could distort the result of the poll on the Alternative Vote.

The argument is an unconvincing diversion. Voters are capable of giving separate verdicts on a parliamentary or local election and a referendum. The fact that some voters will have more reasons to head for a polling station than others is a factor that could work either way in relation to the outcome of the referendum. The truth is that the Tory dissenters are opposed to a change in the voting system, disapprove of the referendum pledge that David Cameron made to Nick Clegg as part of the coalition deal and are wary of the partnership with the Liberal Democrats in ways that extend well beyond this particular concern.

Mr Cameron should not lose very much sleep over this and nor should Mr Clegg. The numbers involved are relatively small. Most Conservative MPs appear willing to support the bill that would clear the way for a referendum next May even though they oppose electoral reform. For Labour, the Miliband brothers, one of whom will almost certainly be the next leader of the Labour party, have declared in favour of the Alternative Vote. The right of the Conservative Party and its unofficial leader, David Davis, might regard the Government led by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg as the "Brokeback Coalition", but they are the ones that look increasingly broken in terms of their capacity to shape events, at least in the short-term.

The argument for a referendum next May is irrefutable. The legislation can be passed by then and the logistics are easily arranged. There is no point in holding the referendum at a different stage in the year and there is no obvious democratic purpose in doing so. The following autumn, days will be shorter. The spring of the year after will be dominated by another set of local elections. After that there would be no time to introduce a new voting system before the next general election. Attempts by Conservative MPs to block the referendum being staged next May should be dismissed by their colleagues on the Tory benches and by Labour MPs who were elected pledging to hold a vote on electoral reform. The agreed date is the right one.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant in secondary school Manchester

£11280 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Teaching a...

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A homeless person sleeps in the streets  

This is why I am sleeping rough outside the party conferences

Max J Freeman
Strikes were carried out by manned air force and navy aircraft (File photo)  

Syria air strikes: President Assad now has the enemy he always wanted – Islamist terrorism

Kim Sengupta
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits