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Today provides further evidence of why AV would make future manifesto promises completely worthless

By Jonathan Isaby

Nick Clegg Commons 2010 Nick Clegg took a lot of flak at today's PMQs for having said one thing at the General Election on higher education funding whilst now intending to do something else now he finds himself in government.

I give him credit for the mature attitude he has taken on the matter.

One of his backbench MPs, Cheltenham's Martin Horwood (who along with all LIb Dems signed an election pledge against increasing tuition fees), appeared on TV earlier this afternoon to meet students and explain that he was yet to decide how to vote in the Commons on the matter.

Horwood did point out, however, that coalition government did mean that parties had to make compromises, and accepted that his party was not in a position to fulfil its pre-election pledge.

So there you have, out of the mouth of a LIb Dem MP, another reason to say NO2AV and oppose changing our electoral system: we know that the AV system would inevitably lead to hung parliaments as a matter of course; and hung parliaments mean negotiations to build coalitions in which both parties involved sacrifice elements of their programme and ditch some of their hitherto cherished promises.

In other words, AV would forever give parties carte blanche to make manifesto promises to the voters in the knowledge that they could merrily ditch them days afterwards as part of the post-election horse-trading for a place in government.

There is absolutely no place in a democracy for the ugly scenes we have wtinessed this afternoon from those students and associated Left-wing bandwagon jumpers protesting against the Government's Higher Education funding plans. But I would venture that frustration with the political class would be even starker if we replace First Past The Post with an electoral system in which it is even harder for us to hold politicians to account - because they are effectively let off the hook as soon as they enter the negotiating room in order to set ab out forming a governemnt.


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