The case for AV: it'll make people smile, says Mehdi Hasan

Forget Clegg. Do you want to put a smile on these people's faces?

Lots of lefties and Labour Party supporters tell me that they plan to vote against the Alternative Vote (AV) in order to give Nick Clegg a "bloody nose" on 5 May. In the words of "Phil", a commenter on the Staggers blog:

"Would a no on AV make Nick Clegg p***ed off?"

Answer: Yes.

So I'll be voting to wipe that smile off his smug face

Sorry to break it to you, chaps, but AV isn't all about Nick Clegg. If we're going to get all schoolgroundish about it, I'll be voting for AV - not just because our existing first-past-the-post system is undemocratic, unfair, biased and broken - but because I'd rather wipe the smile of these people's faces [below]. Wouldn't you?

David Cameron


Rupert Murdoch


George Osborne


Nick Griffin


David Blunkett


John Reid


Andrew Roberts


Richard Desmond


(All pictures Getty Images)

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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PMQs review: Theresa May shows again that Brexit means hard Brexit

The Prime Minister's promise of "an end to free movement" is incompatible with single market membership. 

Theresa May, it is commonly said, has told us nothing about Brexit. At today's PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn ran with this line, demanding that May offer "some clarity". In response, as she has before, May stated what has become her defining aim: "an end to free movement". This vow makes a "hard Brexit" (or "chaotic Brexit" as Corbyn called it) all but inevitable. The EU regards the "four freedoms" (goods, capital, services and people) as indivisible and will not grant the UK an exemption. The risk of empowering eurosceptics elsewhere is too great. Only at the cost of leaving the single market will the UK regain control of immigration.

May sought to open up a dividing line by declaring that "the Labour Party wants to continue with free movement" (it has refused to rule out its continuation). "I want to deliver on the will of the British people, he is trying to frustrate the British people," she said. The problem is determining what the people's will is. Though polls show voters want control of free movement, they also show they want to maintain single market membership. It is not only Boris Johnson who is pro-having cake and pro-eating it. 

Corbyn later revealed that he had been "consulting the great philosophers" as to the meaning of Brexit (a possible explanation for the non-mention of Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith's resignation and May's Goldman Sachs speech). "All I can come up with is Baldrick, who says our cunning plan is to have no plan," he quipped. Without missing a beat, May replied: "I'm interested that [he] chose Baldrick, of course the actor playing Baldrick was a member of the Labour Party, as I recall." (Tony Robinson, a Corbyn critic ("crap leader"), later tweeted that he still is one). "We're going to deliver the best possible deal in goods and services and we're going to deliver an end to free movement," May continued. The problem for her is that the latter aim means that the "best possible deal" may be a long way from the best. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.