Polls show No’s have it in AV referendum

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The most recent UK opinion polls appear to show that the NO campaign in the AV referendum is headed for a decisive victiory.  A poll conducted by ICM on behalf of the Guardian newspaper showed the NO campaign in a commanding lead.  Once don’t knows were factored out, 68% expressed a preference for the existing First Past the Post system for Westminster elections, with only 32% stating support for the Alternative Voting system.

A decisive rejection for the YES campaign will be a serious blow to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats who extracted the referendum from David Cameron and the Conservatives as part of the price of a coalition deal.  The conduct of the campaign has already caused tensions within the Coalition government, with reports that the Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne openly argued with David Cameron and George Osborne at a meeting of the Cabinet earlier this week.

A No result will also be an embarrassment for Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has supported the YES campaign.  However a significant number of Labour figures, including John Reid and David Blunkett, campaigned alongside the Conservatives in the NO campaign.  The Parliamentary Labour party was split, with about half of Labour’s Westminster MPs not following their leader and siding with the NO campaign.

Labour MPs who supported the YES campaign apparently conceded defeat last night.  Speaking to the Financial Times, one Labour campaigner said, “We’re going to get hammered … It has turned into a referendum on Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, and the YES campaign never got going.”

The referendum campaign has had almost no impact in Scotland and has generated by little public interest at a time when all the political parties have been more concerned with the elections to the Holyrood parliament.   The ALBA VOICE campaign organised by Bella Caledonia, and supported by Newsnet Scotland, calls on voters in Scotland to spoil their AV referendum ballot papers by writing independence across them.