Second-guessing the political impact of an AV referendum has become popular sport after news of the 2011 vote leaked late last week. Broadly, the consensus has it that a successful “Yes” vote is the result more likely to keep the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition together beyond 5 May next year.
Neither outcome is risk-free for David Cameron, and a rump of Tory backbenchers (and some silent frontbenchers) will be disappointed should the British public back the Alternative Vote. But will they really be willing to put the coalition in jeopardy over it? Unlikely, on this issue alone.
But how about the Lib Dems choosing to walk away even if they win the day? That idea was floated this morning by Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail.
This major piece of constitutional reform having been achieved, it would give those Lib Dems whose hearts have never been in the coalition (such as Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell) a ready excuse to ditch David Cameron in the belief that, in a pact with Labour, they could win an election.
Surely, that’s a scenario too far. Isn’t it?