First off. I’d like to point that I respect the decision of the people of Britain in a resounding ‘No’ vote to AV. It’s a shame further electoral reform has been buried for a century, but I’m not a Lib Dem so I’ll get over it. But, I would like to explain why ‘No’ won.
The primary reason for a ‘No’ victory was Clegg’s insistence in holding the referendum on the same day as local elections across England, the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Irish Assembly elections. Because of this the people regarded the referendum as one on Clegg rather than a change to the voting system, consequently, due to Clegg’s unpopularity the referendum could have never been won. The coinciding with the local elections was further capitalised on by the ‘No to AV’ campaign, blatantly spreading personal attacks on the Lib Dems and more specifically Clegg himself. Admittedly, I myself am not the Lib Dems biggest fan any more and the ‘Yes’ side was not perfect either in the campaigning, but the Tories completely refusing to discredit the personal attacks which only gave them legitimacy.
This was because the ‘No to AV’ campaign, despite all the publicity of its Labour supporters, was in effect another Tory ‘No to AV’ group and any attempt to deny this is just misguided. The ‘No to AV’ group was 90% funded by Conservative donors and famously in areas of London ‘Labour No to AV’ leaflets had to be withdrawn because of printing at the bottom that read “produced by the Conservative party”. The ‘No to AV’ campaign went even further down the line than merely personal attacks, they also went on a blatant lying spree with famously the £250 million and vote counting machines claim. The reason why we now no this was a blatant lie was because prominent Labour supporter of ‘No to AV’, David Blunket, actually admitted that the £250 million claim was a figure they plucked out of the air. Now while it was a blatant lie (coupled with the “If you vote Yes this baby/soldier will die” lie) it was an effective lie.
This then leads finally onto the effectiveness of the ‘Yes’ campaign which was nothing less than a shambles. There was no coherent and simple message to sell to the British people and their entire campaign group was made up of Lib Dems and a number of charities, with the former being only good at localised, targeted campaigns.
But anyway, electoral reform is now buried for another century, it was good while it lasted, but it’s time to move on.