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

A

Rupert Murdoch

A

George Osborne

A

Nick Griffin

A

David Blunkett

A

John Reid

A

Andrew Roberts

A

Richard Desmond

A

(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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What the "critical" UK terrorist threat level means

The security services believe that Salman Abedi, was not a lone operator but part of a wider cell.

Following the Manchester bombing, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (an inter-agency organisation comprised of 16 different agencies) has raised the UK's threat level from "Severe" to "Critical", the highest possible level.

What does that mean? It doesn't mean, as per some reports, that an attack is believed to be or is definitely imminent, but that one could be imminent.

It suggests that the security services believe that Salman Abedi, was not a lone operator but part of a wider cell that is still at large and may be planning further attacks. As the BBC's Dominic Casciani explains, one reason why attacks of this sort are rare is that they are hard to do without help, which can raise suspicions among counter-terrorism officials or bring would-be perpetrators into contact with people who are already being monitored by security services.

That, as the Times reports, Abedi recently returned from Libya suggests his was an attack that was either "enabled" - that is, he was provided with training and possibly material by international jihadist groups  - or "directed", as opposed to the activities of lone attackers, which are "inspired" by other attacks but not connected to a wider plot.

The hope is that, as with the elevated threat level in 2006 and 2007, it will last only a few days while Abedi's associates are located by the security services, as will the presence of the armed forces in lieu of armed police at selected locations like Parliament, cultural institutions and the like, designed to free up specialist police capacity.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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