Been doing lots of radio today about the anticipated announcement that a referendum be held on May 5th 2011 to decide whether the Alternative Vote system should be used at UK general elections. Its being reported that Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg is going to confirm this date shortly. My view is that a referendum must be held early in this Parliament - even though I'm personally supportive of the First Past the Post system. It was promised as part of the Conservative - Lib Dem Coalition agreement and must be honoured. A deal's a deal.
I also think that no more than one election (or referendum) should take place at the same time. Never been very keen on referendums. When we do have one, the only point of it is to establish what the people actually, genuinely believe - and so often the water surrounding referendums is muddied with red herrings galore. The vote itself usually ends up being about tangential to the question actually put. Its about what the campaigns manage to persuade people that the question is. This haziness is inevitably multiplied when there's more than one vote. And its often the case that one vote influences another - which is exactly the thinking behind the proposition that the referendum on AV be held on May 5th 2011.
So there's a choice. Either the AV vote is held later than May 5th (which is my preference) - or the Welsh General Election should be postponed by a month (as it is allowed to be). If the AV referendum is held on May 5th there could be a real danger of vote-overload amongst the electorate. We would have a referendum on moving to Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act (usually described as extra powers for the Assembly) in March, a vote on AV in May and the Welsh General Election in June. And Vaughan Roderick (who must never be discounted) thinks there might be a UK General Election in June if the AV referendum is lost.