No to AV campaign heading for victory, new poll shows

A New Statesman/ICD poll on the Alternative Vote referendum puts the No campaign 14 points ahead.

The public are set to reject the Alternative Vote (AV) in next week's referendum as support for the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system remains robust, according to a New Statesman/ICD poll.

With just a week to go until the vote, the survey gives the No camp a 14-point lead, suggesting that the Yes campaign is running out of time to convince the public to back reform. Among those who say they are certain to vote in the referendum, the poll shows 53 per cent saying No and 39 saying Yes, with 8.7 per cent still undecided. Among all respondents, the No campaign leads by 46 per cent to 34 per cent, with 17 per cent saying they don't know.

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The poll shows that while Liberal Democrat voters are overwhelmingly in favour of reform (66 per cent to 26 per cent) and Conservative voters are overwhelmingly opposed (76 per cent to 19 per cent), Labour voters remain divided, with 47 per cent backing FPTP No and 41 per cent backing AV.

The findings suggest that the latter could yet swing the result in the Yes campaign's favour. Earlier this week the Labour Yes campaign released a new poster urging the party's voters to "wipe the smile" off David Cameron and George Osborne's faces by supporting AV.

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Supporters of the Green Party, which is calling for a Yes vote, back AV by 63 per cent to 20 per cent but supporters of the UK Independence Party, which also favours a Yes vote, oppose AV by 64 per cent to 35 per cent. The British National Party, which both sides have claimed would suffer under their system of choice, is calling for a No vote but its supporters back AV by 72 to 18 per cent.

The survey also shows that large numbers of young voters remain undecided. Among those aged 18-24, who say they are certain to vote, 12 per cent say they don't know which way they will vote. Young voters currently back AV by 59 per cent to 29 per cent, suggesting that the Yes campaign has the potential to increase its support among this demographic.

However, hopes that Scottish and Welsh voters, who currently use the proportional Additional Member System for devolved elections, will vote Yes in large numbers appear to be unfounded. Among those who are certain to vote, Scottish voters currently oppose AV by 50 per cent to 30 per cent and Welsh voters currently oppose AV by 56 per cent to 26 per cent.

In London, where there are no local elections this year, the two sides are neck and neck, with 46 per cent of people planning to vote Yes and 46 per cent planning to vote No.

Datasets: all respondents and certain to vote.

Study carried out by ICD Research, powered by the IDFactor, from April 22nd to April 25th, across an un-weighted sample of 3,467 responses. Final data was weighted to be reflective of UK population aged 18+ by age, gender and region.

ICD Research is a full service market research agency, which in partnership with its sister company the IDFactor owns, manages and builds consumer and B2B panels. To find out more about ICD Research and the IDFactor, visit their websites at www.icd-research.com and www.theidfactor.com

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Let's face it: supporting Spurs is basically a form of charity

Now, for my biggest donation yet . . .

I gazed in awe at the new stadium, the future home of Spurs, wondering where my treasures will go. It is going to be one of the architectural wonders of the modern world (football stadia division), yet at the same time it seems ancient, archaic, a Roman ruin, very much like an amphitheatre I once saw in Croatia. It’s at the stage in a new construction when you can see all the bones and none of the flesh, with huge tiers soaring up into the sky. You can’t tell if it’s going or coming, a past perfect ruin or a perfect future model.

It has been so annoying at White Hart Lane this past year or so, having to walk round walkways and under awnings and dodge fences and hoardings, losing all sense of direction. Millions of pounds were being poured into what appeared to be a hole in the ground. The new stadium will replace part of one end of the present one, which was built in 1898. It has been hard not to be unaware of what’s going on, continually asking ourselves, as we take our seats: did the earth move for you?

Now, at long last, you can see what will be there, when it emerges from the scaffolding in another year. Awesome, of course. And, har, har, it will hold more people than Arsenal’s new home by 1,000 (61,000, as opposed to the puny Emirates, with only 60,000). At each home game, I am thinking about the future, wondering how my treasures will fare: will they be happy there?

No, I don’t mean Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker – local as well as national treasures. Not many Prem teams these days can boast quite as many English persons in their ranks. I mean my treasures, stuff wot I have been collecting these past 50 years.

About ten years ago, I went to a shareholders’ meeting at White Hart Lane when the embryonic plans for the new stadium were being announced. I stood up when questions were called for and asked the chairman, Daniel Levy, about having a museum in the new stadium. I told him that Man United had made £1m the previous year from their museum. Surely Spurs should make room for one in the brave new mega-stadium – to show off our long and proud history, delight the fans and all those interested in football history and make a few bob.

He mumbled something – fluent enough, as he did go to Cambridge – but gave nothing away, like the PM caught at Prime Minister’s Questions with an unexpected question.

But now it is going to happen. The people who are designing the museum are coming from Manchester to look at my treasures. They asked for a list but I said, “No chance.” I must have 2,000 items of Spurs memorabilia. I could be dead by the time I finish listing them. They’ll have to see them, in the flesh, and then they’ll be free to take away whatever they might consider worth having in the new museum.

I’m awfully kind that way, partly because I have always looked on supporting Spurs as a form of charity. You don’t expect any reward. Nor could you expect a great deal of pleasure, these past few decades, and certainly not the other day at Liverpool when they were shite. But you do want to help them, poor things.

I have been downsizing since my wife died, and since we sold our Loweswater house, and I’m now clearing out some of my treasures. I’ve donated a very rare Wordsworth book to Dove Cottage, five letters from Beatrix Potter to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, and handwritten Beatles lyrics to the British Library. If Beckham and I don’t get a knighthood in the next honours list, I will be spitting.

My Spurs stuff includes programmes going back to 1910, plus recent stuff like the Opus book, that monster publication, about the size of a black cab. Limited editions cost £8,000 a copy in 2007. I got mine free, as I did the introduction and loaned them photographs. I will be glad to get rid of it. It’s blocking the light in my room.

Perhaps, depending on what they want, and they might take nothing, I will ask for a small pourboire in return. Two free tickets in the new stadium. For life. Or longer . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times