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2 November 2010

How support for electoral reform has plummeted

First-past-the-post now has an 11-point lead over the Alternative Vote.

By George Eaton

There’s more bad news for the Liberal Democrats in the latest YouGov poll. The party is back down to just 11 per cent and support for electoral reform has fallen to its lowest level yet.

The latest figures show that just 32 per cent are in favour of adopting the Alternative Vote, with 43 per cent opposed to reform. By comparison, back in June, AV had a lead of 10 points over first-past-the-post. The graph below shows how sharp the decline in support has been.

The campaign proper may not begin until next year, but it looks as if the Yes campaign will have a lot of ground to make up.

Graph

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The No campaign is also significantly better organised and better funded. It already has an experienced team in place, including Matthew Elliott, the former chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, the Australian pollster Lynton Crosby (who masterminded Boris Johnson’s election), the Tory MPs Bernard Jenkin and George Eustice, as well as James Frayne, former campaign director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who led the successful referendum campaign against a north-east regional assembly.

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The No camp can also count on backing from wealthy City donors fearful that AV would lead to a succession of hung parliaments. The Yes camp has neither the organisational nor the financial muscle to compete.

Meanwhile, the coalition’s decision to bundle its partisan boundary changes with the AV referendum means that few Labour activists are prepared to lend the campaign their support.

It seems there’s little love for the electoral system that Nick Clegg once denounced as a “miserable little compromise”.