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.

CREDIT: CREATIVE COMMONS
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A group of men united only by sport was once my idea of hell. What changed?

It struck me, during the course of our team’s annual pre-season dinner, how much I like my team-mates. 

To the cricket team’s annual pre-season dinner. Although I’ve been playing for them for ten years or so, I’ve never been to one of these. This is because when I say “I’ve been playing for them for etc…” you’re probably not getting the right picture. What I mean is: I have played ten matches for them, and last year not at all, with a highest score of 22, and an average of 10.17. If you think that’s unimpressive, it’s a lot better than when I was a schoolboy, and I am just 26th placed out of 50 people who have played ten or more matches for them. Last year I was 25th, I see. Well, I’m going to have to do something about that.

The idea is that if I go to the dinner this time, it will inspire me to get in shape and play a game or two this season. I almost invariably enjoy it when I do, especially the time I was in a record-breaking tenth-wicket partnership of 72 while batting with a broken hand. (Well, finger. But a finger’s a part of the hand, isn’t it? Even the little finger.) I suppose there are times when I don’t enjoy it so much, such as when it’s raining hard enough for the cows in neighbouring fields to sit under a tree, but not hard enough to send us back to the pavilion or, better still, the pub, and the opposition are clouting us all over the ground despite the weather, and if we’d batted first – we never bat first, in my (limited) experience – the other lot would have polished us off about an hour ago, and we could now all be cosily inside the pavilion or, as I said earlier, even better, the pub. Then again, the team is called the Rain Men, so what did I expect?

So signing up for games involves considering a number of factors: some kind of mystic calculation about what the weather will be like, an assessment of how far away the ground is (we’re a nomadic team, so we don’t have one of our own), and how fit I think I’m going to be on the day. That’s the troublesome part. There is, of course, the melancholy of coming back, aching and knackered, at what is usually well after nine in the evening on a Sunday, lugging a cricket bag, like someone who has not been able to let go of his childhood and is out after his bedtime.

The fitness, as I said, is problematic. I got slightly out of puff going for a pee between the second and third paragraphs of this column, so I think there is going to be a lot of tedious spadework in store for me. My dumb-bells are in East Finchley, which I don’t go to, although as my cricket stuff is there too I suppose I’m going to have to bite that bullet sooner or later. If I eschew the dumb-bells then there will always be the floor, gravity, and push-ups. There will always be stairs, somewhere, I can run up and down, while I have the use of my legs. While there is an earth I can walk upon, I can walk upon it. The upper body strength, so I can pick up a cricket bat without falling over, is the thing to aim for, but right now the main goal is to be able to get out of bed and go to the loo without getting winded.

Anyway, the dinner. I decided that I’d walk to the restaurant. This was largely because the restaurant is about 200 yards from where I am holed up at the moment. There is, literally, only one restaurant closer to me. I walked a bit more than 200 yards because I had to swing by Sainsbury’s to pick up a couple of bottles of wine (the McGuigan’s Reserve Cab Sauv at £6.50 a bot, special offer, being the sedative of choice these days), as the restaurant is unlicensed. We met at the pub first, of course.

It struck me, during the course of the evening, how much I like my team-mates. I am by no means the oldest, so many of them are rich in wisdom and experience. (Amazingly, the team won more games last season than it has in its history, but that might have been because I hadn’t played for them.) Two of the people I am particularly fond of couldn’t make it, but at least I got to have A Long Rant About Life In General with Marcus Berkmann, author of two extremely amusing books about the team (Rain Men and Zimmer Men), as well as the greatest book about Star Trek ever written (Set Phasers to Stun).

Imagine: a long table sat at by a group of about 15 men, united only by a sport. It would once have been my idea of hell. So why is it not now? Is it because I actually like these guys? They’re not the typical idea of a cricket club gang, I have to say that. And we do, admittedly, talk about cricket a fair amount. But still. (I even liked I—, who gave up smoking and then had a rush of blood to the head last year and sent a round-robin email to the team saying how much he hated A—, one of our most lovable players. I— couldn’t make it to the dinner, largely on the grounds of not having been invited.) Or am I that lonely? 

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 12 April 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Syria’s world war