David Cameron attacks Major government in AV campaign

April 23, 2011 - 0:0

David Cameron has used John Major’s 1997 administration as an example of a “bad government” that can be swept away by the current voting system.

The prime minister picked the most recent Conservative-only government to illustrate why the proposed Alternative Vote system should be opposed. He said removing tired governments was vital to democracy.
When the country “desperately needed to get rid of that (Labour) government” in 1979, they were able to elect Margaret Thatcher, he said.
“We also remember 1997 and I think we know in 1997 the country needed change. Again it was a decisive result,” he added. His criticism came as a surprise because Mr. Cameron is close to Sir John Major and occasionally uses him to support specific policy ideas.
Mr. Cameron admitted that Cabinet divisions over changing the voting system had led to a “choppy” period for the Coalition.
The prime minister said he has had to take on a high-profile role in the No to AV campaign, angering Nick Clegg, his deputy, who believed he had assurances that Mr. Cameron would not engage so prominently in opposing AV.
With two weeks to go before the referendum, tensions have boiled over with both sides engaging in increasingly bitter rows over campaign tactics.
Mr. Cameron said: “This is obviously for Coalition going to be quite a choppy period because we have embarked on a referendum where we’re on different sides.
“I’m passionate 'No’ is the right answer, Nick is equally passionate that 'Yes’ is. Once it’s over we will make sure the Coalition is, and remains, strong.”
The Liberal Democrat leader is privately said to be angry that Mr. Cameron has so vocally backed first-past-the-post. But Mr. Cameron said: “There’s an independent No campaign and an independent Yes campaign and absolutely Nick Clegg and I should make arguments in a very reasonable way and I think we’re both doing that.
“Both campaigns have ended up with more politicians in than perhaps either of us had hoped, but I am taking quite a high profile in the campaign, it’s important.”
A poll published today shows that the over-50s are likely to vote against changing the current system. It is a significant blow to the Yes campaign as older voters are most likely to make the effort to vote on May 5. Only 32 percent favored AV in the survey by Saga magazine.
Mr. Clegg argued in The Daily Telegraph this week that AV would help clean up politics after the expenses scandal.
In a rare speech for the Yes campaign, he made a party political criticism of Labour for leaving Britain with a record deficit and said Labour was “treating the British people like fools”.
That partisan intervention irritated Labour supporters of AV. Will Straw, a Labour activist and pro-AV campaigner, said Mr. Clegg’s speech was “spectacularly badly judged. Since Labour voters are swing voters he would have done far better to reach out.” A poll this week put the No campaign 16 points ahead.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)