I doubt more than one in twenty of the arguments made – either for or against AV – in this campaign have any substance to them at all. Instead there’s been such an endless parade of misinformation, dishonesty, special pleading and scaremongering that one wonders if this country’s political and media classes can be trusted to hold any further referendums on any subject at all.

Alex Massie

On referendums

The Spectator’s Alex Massie recently wrote: The only thing that has been proved by this referendum on changing the electoral system used for Westminster elections is that referendums are a hopeless way of deciding these matters. Neither the politicians nor the press have distinguished themselves during an affair that’s been distinguished by the mendacity of almost all the protagonists, the hysteria of partisans on both sides and the sheer quantity of lumpen stupidity on display. It has not been an edifying or comforting process. The rest of his post continues in the same vein, as he points out the failings of both the Yes and No camp – the Yes campaign being “dire”, the No campaign “ridiculous”. I share Massie’s […]

Super-majorities and minimum turnouts

After a protracted battle between the House of Commons and the Lords, the AV-Constituencies bill finally received Royal Assent yesterday, meeting the deadline to ensure that the referendum on AV will take place as scheduled on May 5. The last sticking point was the Lords’ insistence on requiring a minimum turnout of at least 40% for the referendum to make it binding on the government. The House of Commons rejected this, and the Lords finally bowed to the pressure of respecting the will of elected parliamentarians. There have been four referendums in various Canadian provinces (PEI [2005], Ontario [2007] and twice in BC [2005 and 2009]) on adopting different forms of PR, and in each case, a super-majority was required […]