Wedding bells drown out the referendum

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 27 April 2011 in Diary
The AV referendum is suffering from a lack of coverage. The five days between the royal wedding and polling day are our only hope of having a mature campaign, says Harry Cole

It seems that the heat and regal excitement has whipped one or two people who should really know better into a bit of a frenzy. In the last few days some wild accusations, ugly names, barmy ideas and frankly bonkers predictions have been bandied about.

The AV gloves came off last week, but nobody was expecting the Yes campaign to bring a knife to the fight. Mandy says it will hurt Dave, the No campaign say it will hurt Nick and everyone else is frankly confused.  In almost all of the polls currently out, the undecideds have the ability to swing the final result. If the warfare continues like this, things could come right down to the wire. It's more likely that they will just be put off and stay at home.

The problem is that the AV referendum isn’t getting the coverage it needs for mature arguments to develop on the airwaves. Where at this point the relative benefits and downsides should be being debated in depth, the royal wedding is saturating all aspects of the media and the AV teams can only get any cut through with things that are negative or shocking. 

The royal wedding is helping the Yes side as the fewer people hear about AV and the referendum, the more likely Yes can sneak it through by only getting their devout followers to the voting booths. The more people that hear about AV, the fewer people want it. Part of a referendum campaign should be an education, but Yes to Fairer Voters seem set on preaching to the converted.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. There are going to be five days while the street cleaners sweep away the flags and empty beer cars, and the bunting is packed away for another royal day before the country goes to the polls.That five days is the chance to do this referendum campaign properly. Instead of the teams fighting each other personally, let's see them fight on the issues, face to face on TV and radio.

For those of us who believe referendums should be more frequent as part of a healthier democracy, the conduct of those supporting reform this time round has severely hampered the chances of something like this being repeated again any time soon.Instead of Chris Huhne just point blank refusing to engage on valid points raised and instead using his two minutes on the telly to call everyone liars, why doesn’t he just grow up and fight a clean fight? There is light at the end of the tunnel for the referendum, but let's hope it isn’t oncoming train.

Tags: AV referendum, Chris Huhne, No to AV, Yes to Fairer Votes

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