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Benjamin Zephaniah “removed” from pro-AV pamphlets

AV campaign hots up after No to AV hint at racism in the Yes to AV campaign.

The AV referendum is drawing nearer and the campaign for and against it is getting dirtier. This weekend No to AV were caught playing fast and loose with the facts about their BNP claims. Yesterday, however, No to AV alleged that the Yes camp had removed the black poet Benjamin Zephaniah from promotional literature outside London because they were "ashamed" of his support.

No to AV have certainly got one thing right. As the New Statesman shows for the first time, Zephaniah is definitely absent from the ones sent to West Sussex, where the cast of supporters is decidedly pasty-faced.

This Yes to Fairer Votes leaflet went out in Ealing:

Ealing

While this one went out in West Sussex.

West Sussex

Yes to Fairer Votes deny the claims. "We have a number of endorsers and we vary the endorsers we use on our leaflets," said a spokesman. "These allegations mark a new low for the No campaign and [its] increasingly desperate smears.

"Let's put it this way: Operation Black Vote, the Muslim Council of Britain and a host of similar groups are backing the Yes campaign. The BNP is backing the No campaign. People can draw their own conclusions."

No to AV, however, are making the most of it. Councillor Terry Paul, spokesman for No to AV, said: "Why are Yes to AV ashamed to have the support of Benjamin Zephaniah in places like Cornwall and Hampshire? The Yes campaign's leaflet offers a chilling preview of politics under the Alternative Vote.

"We have warned that AV would encourage parties to pander to extremist opinions in a chase for second- and third-preference votes, but we never imagined the first example of such outdated views would come from the Yes campaign itself."

Ouch.