Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Spotlight
  2. Elections
19 April 2011

The Tory plan to sabotage a Yes vote

Conservative MPs could block AV by delaying the coalition’s boundary changes.

By George Eaton

The polls may be pointing to a victory for No to AV, but Tory MPs are already working out how they would sabotage a Yes vote. One option under discussion is to delay the coalition’s boundary changes.

As I’ve pointed out before, the 2015 general election will be held under AV only if the redrawn boundaries have been implemented.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Alternatively, the Tories could block reform by forcing an early election. The boundary review isn’t due to conclude until 2013, which means that any election before this date will be fought under first-past-the-post.

Julian Lewis, the former Tory frontbencher, tells the Times (£): “I would be prepared to consider any legitimate means available to find a way of either reversing or circumventing the outcome.” If AV is passed on a low turnout, with Scotland winning the day, many will be prepared to join him.

At the No to AV event yesterday, David Cameron insisted that he would not allow FPTP diehards to override a Yes vote in this way. But if the referendum is lost, Cameron’s stock will be low and he may struggle to contain a rebellion. The many Labour MPs opposed to FPTP would be prepared to unite with the Tory rebels to block the introduction of AV.

For the Yes camp, the battle may have just begun.