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The AV referendum should not be held on May 5th next year

JENKIN-BERNARD Much discussion during the day on the reports that a referendum on adopting Alternative Vote for Westminster elections will happen on May 5th next year, as blogged by Paul earlier.

The Conservative MPs in favour of First Past The Post who have appeared on the media so far today (Daniel Kawczynski and Bernard Jenkin, pictured) have indicated that they will feel morally obliged to vote for a referendum to take place since it was a fundamental part of the Coalition deal.

However, the timing of the plebiscite is proving to be more controversial.

Bernard Jenkin was interviewed this lunchtime on the World at One on Radio 4 to say that he would oppose the referendum happening on May 5th next year - as this coincides with elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, as well as local elections in some parts of England.

He argued that this would necessarily result in a differential turnout across the country, which would most likely be unfairly loaded in favour of changing the system - because turnout is liable to be higher in Scotland and Wales where voters were already using non-First Past The Post systems.

Moreover, it would mean that the question of whether or not to change the electoral system would be confused with matters of who runs Scotland/Wales/local councils - a concern which has previously led the Electoral Commission to recommend against holding referendums on the same day as other elections.

I agree with Bernard.

Jonathan Isaby

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