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

Share
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
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - North West - Registered Charity

£31800 - £35400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This registered charity's missi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative - OTE £55,000

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Why not be in charge of your ow...

Recruitment Genius: Business Operations Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Peac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Channel 4's Married at First Sight  

Married At First Sight is the social experiment that proves we've forgotten how to fall in love

Ruby Thomas
Dolphin Square where Lord Sewel allegedly took drugs with prostitutes  

Lord Sewel's real crime was joining the House of Lords in the first place

Boris Corovic
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food