Why Yes2AV lags so far behind

If No to AV wins next week – as the latest <em>NS</em> poll says it will – the Yes camp will have on

I came across an extremely rare occurrence on Facebook last night: a good advert in support of the Alternative Vote. It was simple, to the point, and actually made me want to vote for AV. Look at it:

Yes2AV's only decent advert

It makes you smile and it gets across one of the main benefits of AV – that first-past-the-post often disregards the majority of people's views.

Now watch this:

Actually, don't. It is two and a half minutes of awfulness which fails to convey a single clear point why AV is preferable to FPTP. In it, a bunch of hectoring Lib Dem voters (well, they look like Lib Dem voters), goes around annoying MPs with megaphones to convey the message that AV will, err, make MPs work harder, sort of. Or something.

The success of the advert can be judged by the paltry number of views it has received – a mere 30,000 on YouTube. The "Let's AV a beer" image, meanwhile, has been seen 120,000 times on the image-sharing website Imgur alone.

So, is it any wonder that Yes2AV lags 14 points behind the No camp in the latest New Statesman/ICD poll, released today?

No to AV has run a dirty, negative campaign that has at times played very fast and loose with the facts, and has also displayed moments of extremely poor taste. It has, however, been a very effective campaign.

When I blogged about Yes2AV's flip-flopping over Benjamin Zephaniah's face on its election literature, the No press team sent over four different versions of the leaflet within seconds of me asking for it; when I tried to get pictures of No to AV's infamous "Vote No, or the baby gets it!" poster from the Yes camp, they didn't have them. No to AV made the most of every opportunity, unlike the Yes camp.

As a supporter of electoral reform, what is most frustrating about the Yes camp's failure to make an effective case is that the British people want electoral reform – or at least they did. Last summer, 78 per cent of people supported replacing FPTP with a system that "reflects more accurately the proportion of votes cast for each party". AV is not a proportional system, but it is – in my view, and as the "Let's AV a beer" poster makes clear – a fairer one. Yes2AV had a potential constituency.

The British people are willing to listen on electoral reform, but Yes2AV has wholly failed to make itself heard. If – as looks almost inevitable – Yes2AV loses next week, it will have only itself to blame.

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Donald Trump's healthcare failure could be to his advantage

The appearance of weakness is less electorally damaging than actually removing healthcare from millions of people.

Good morning. Is it all over for Donald Trump? His approval ratings have cratered to below 40%. Now his attempt to dismantle Barack Obama's healthcare reforms have hit serious resistance from within the Republican Party, adding to the failures and retreats of his early days in office.

The problem for the GOP is that their opposition to Obamacare had more to do with the word "Obama" than the word "care". The previous President opted for a right-wing solution to the problem of the uninsured in a doomed attempt to secure bipartisan support for his healthcare reform. The politician with the biggest impact on the structures of the Affordable Care Act is Mitt Romney.

But now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they are left in a situation where they have no alternative to Obamacare that wouldn't either a) shred conservative orthodoxies on healthcare or b) create numerous and angry losers in their constituencies. The difficulties for Trump's proposal is that it does a bit of both.

Now the man who ran on his ability to cut a deal has been forced to make a take it or leave plea to Republicans in the House of Representatives: vote for this plan or say goodbye to any chance of repealing Obamacare.

But that's probably good news for Trump. The appearance of weakness and failure is less electorally damaging than actually succeeding in removing healthcare from millions of people, including people who voted for Trump.

Trump won his first term because his own negatives as a candidate weren't quite enough to drag him down on a night when he underperformed Republican candidates across the country. The historical trends all make it hard for a first-term incumbent to lose. So far, Trump's administration is largely being frustrated by the Republican establishment though he is succeeding in leveraging the Presidency for the benefit of his business empire.

But it may be that in the failure to get anything done he succeeds in once again riding Republican coattails to victory in 2020.

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