Electoral reform referendum “to be announced next week as set for May 2011”

Left Foot Forward’s story will pile more pressure on David Cameron to reconsider his stance.

Following my report that David Cameron is "considering" backing a "Yes" vote in a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) in order to seal the deal with the Liberal Democrats, Left Foot Forward has just broken the story that the referendum will be announced next week, and held next May.

This further suggests that, in the wake of their providing crucial cover for Tuesday's Budget, the Liberal Democrats are reasserting their influence on the coalition. And it adds more pressure on Cameron to make it clear to Lib Dems, both in parliament and in the country at large, whether or not he is serious about sharing power.

For if Nick Clegg fails to win any real change to Britain's warped electoral system, the Lib Dem participation in this Tory-led government will itself surely be deemed a failure.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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An alternative Trainspotting script for John Humphrys’ Radio 4 “Choose Life” tribute

Born chippy.

Your mole often has Radio 4’s Today programme babbling away comfortingly in the background while emerging blinking from the burrow. So imagine its horror this morning, when the BBC decided to sully this listening experience with John Humphrys doing the “Choose Life” monologue from Trainspotting.

“I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Radio 4?” he concluded, as a nation cringed.

Introduced as someone who has “taken issue with modernity”, Humphrys launched into the film character Renton’s iconic rant against the banality of modern life.

But Humphrys’ role as in-studio curmudgeon is neither endearing nor amusing to this mole. Often tasked with stories about modern technology and digital culture by supposedly mischievous editors, Humphrys sounds increasingly cranky and ill-informed. It doesn’t exactly make for enlightening interviews. So your mole has tampered with the script. Here’s what he should have said:

“Choose life. Choose a job and then never retire, ever. Choose a career defined by growling and scoffing. Choose crashing the pips three mornings out of five. Choose a fucking long contract. Choose interrupting your co-hosts, politicians, religious leaders and children. Choose sitting across the desk from Justin Webb at 7.20 wondering what you’re doing with your life. Choose confusion about why Thought for the Day is still a thing. Choose hogging political interviews. Choose anxiety about whether Jim Naughtie’s departure means there’s dwindling demand for grouchy old men on flagship political radio shows. Choose a staunch commitment to misunderstanding stories about video games and emoji. Choose doing those stories anyway. Choose turning on the radio and wondering why the fuck you aren’t on on a Sunday morning as well. Choose sitting on that black leather chair hosting mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows (Mastermind). Choose going over time at the end of it all, pishing your last few seconds on needlessly combative questions, nothing more than an obstacle to that day’s editors being credited. Choose your future. Choose life . . .”

I'm a mole, innit.