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Jonathan Isaby: The questionable political judgement of Eddie Izzard

By Jonathan Isaby

Picture 7 Yesterday saw the official launch of the Yes to AV campaign, fronted by comedian Eddie Izzard (because, lest we forget, the country's two leading Yes campaigners, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg refuse to share a platform with each other).

I'll put to one side the fact that celebrity endorsements ought to be a cosmetic add-on for a campaign rather than their very basis.

But let's just take a moment to look at Izzard's political record.

This is the same Eddie Izzard who went up and down the country last year calling on the public to vote Labour and keep a discredited Gordon Brown in office as Prime Minister.

Moreover, this is also the same Eddie Izzard who a decade ago was the celebrity fronting another campaign, urging British membership of the euro.

As the BBC reported on New Year's Eve 2001:

One of the only UK stars to campaign for the euro, Izzard will travel from London to Paris and back on 1 January to pick up euro notes. He will spend them in some of the UK retailers who have promised to accept the currency when it is introduced in 12 other European countries.

He said his motivation was "the idea of the European people coming together and realising that we're not all different". "This is a 'coming together' thing, and we've just got to keep going on this project," he said.

And as the Telegraph reminded us in 2009:

Euro-federalism consumes him completely. He boasts of being one of the first people ever to spend a euro note, cannot understand his country's whimsical attachment to notions of sovereignty, and appears, indeed, to be unsure if he really has a country. During an appearance on the BBC's Question Time he declared himself to be a "British-European".

He was wrong on the euro then and he's wrong on AV now.

In the clip below of Izzard being interviewed yesterday, he claims that AV would put power in the hands of the voters.

This is utterly disingenuous: AV is a system that would generally make hung parliaments more likely - and hung parliaments mean more power for politicians making deals behind closed doors after an election.

It is universally accepted that if the last election had been fought under AV, the arithmetic would have been such that the Lib Dems could have delivered a majority for a coalition government led by either Gordon Brown or David Cameron. The power to decide the Prime Minister would have rested with Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems. That's hardly putting power in the hands of the voters, is it?


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