One final AV referendum post ...

One final look at the reasons for the defeat of AV, this time from the perspective of a disappointed "Yes" supporter.

Angela Harbutt has written this article on "Liberal Vision" about "The Humiliation of the 'Yes' campaign."

The massive scale of the rejection of AV undoubtedly means that this system will not be put forward again in Britain in the lifetime of any present-day voter. The reason I have referred back several times on this blog to what went right for the No campaign and wrong for the yes one is that some of the lessons are valuable ones for anyone, of whatever party, involved in politics.

As Angela writes,

"The YES campaign was eminently winnable. But it ended up being run by readers of the Guardian for readers of the Guardian. Readers of this newspaper are about 1% of the voting electorate – and are also a statistically extreme group. Their views do not chime remotely with mainstream British opinion. There is no purist Guardian editorial proposition that could ever come close to winning a referendum in the UK.

"From the outset, the YES campaign was all about the tiny coterie of people who feel strongly about electoral reform. The emphasis was on these people “having fun” and being invited to comedy evenings. In email after email from the YES campaign, the quirky behaviour of this “producer set” was celebrated and the “consumer set” ignored. So, some bunch of local activists who had written the letters Y, E and S in big letters on a beach were hailed as creative geniuses. Others were highlighted for running a particularly successful street stall. From the point of view of any observer, it was all about “them”(the micro-percentage of constitutional reform obsessives) never about “us” (the people). None of this self-indulgent madness won a single vote for the YES side, but it probably lost thousands ...

"Possibly the nadir was the completely off piste broadcast showing hectoring “normal” voters wandering around with loud hailers shouting at supposed MPs for not working hard enough. As a slightly surreal opening scene to a new episode of Doctor Who, this might – just might – have worked.

"As a piece of campaigning, it is perhaps the worst three minutes of material ever to be broadcast on primetime television ...

"Never has a more confused, self-indulgent piece of rubbish made it to air in Britain. The YES campaign must have been “focus-grouping” themselves. And if you donated any cash – this is the sort of total garbage it was wasted on.

"The lessons of all of this should be pretty clear. Never again allow a bunch of well-meaning, self-important Guardian readers to run a national campaign in which they talk to themselves and then blame their embarrassing naivety on external forces beyond their control."

But before any Conservatives and No supporters reading this get too amused - we've sometimes made mistakes like this too.

The equivalent mistake for the No side - or the Conservative party - would be if we allowed our campaigns to be run by Telegraph readers for Telegraph readers - or by Daily Mail readers for Daily Mail readers. And I don't mean by that that either of those papers don't often take positions that I agree with. I mean that to win elections you have to listen to a wider spectrum of people.

That includes people who are trying to express genuine concerns about something that worries them, even if it's on an issue which the political class doesn't find respectable - which is why I often allow comments which I disagree with to be posted here provided they don't libel anybody, insult the recently dead, or otherwise cross the line between criticism and being offensive.

Anyone who is involved in politics, in whatever party, should be asking themselves how we can get more people involved and listen more to the people.

Frankly, last week's results were not good enough for any political party to be able to afford complacency.

Not the Conservatives,

definately not Labour as the more intelligent members of that party clearly realise, as you can read here or here or here,

and obviously not the Liberal Democrats. We all need to do better.


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