The No to AV campaign launched here in Wales today (Monday) with a couple of low-profile events and an inflatable No.
Although the campaign is a cross-party one, the Cardiff event and a similar launch at Swansea were attended only by Conservative politicians, staff and supporters.
In Cardiff, the Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies was the highest-profile person to put on the No to AV t-shirt and stand in front of the campaign’s inflatable yellow No.
He explained to me why he was calling for a No vote, particularly at a time when he and his party will need to do all it can to win votes in the Assembly election.
It’s important that people understand that there’s a referendum to be had on May 5th.
It’s a referendum on the British democracy that we understand and know – first past the post – and do they want to give up the freehold of British democracy?
I hope people in Cardiff and across the UK don’t want to do that and offer backroom deals to people who shouldn’t have that power over democracy.
It (the Alternative Vote system) is not proportional … there are only three countries in the world that use it … and two of those countries are looking to stop it.
What’s more important is that with first past the post we get strong, decisive government.
When I put it to him that the last election fought under first past the post, the UK General Election, hadn’t delivered strong, decisive government, he dismissed what he said were ‘anomalies’ that happen from time to time.
And he rejected my suggestion that the fact that only Conservatives had turned up to the launch made it seem the No campaign was a Tory front. It’s ‘a people-fronted organisation,’ he said.
In fact Labour politicians had offered their support but not been able to make it to the events.
Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd made this statement for the Swansea launch:
I am urging everybody in Swansea to vote No in the AV referendum on May 5th. The Alternative Vote is just not a very good system. Even those campaigning for it used to be against it. Nick Clegg himself called it a ‘miserable little compromise’.
Everybody in Swansea and South Wales has the right to have their vote counted and for that vote to be equal to all others. Under the AV system, some people will have their votes counted 2, 3, even 4 times, and some candidates can end up winning even when they only came third.
I am urging everybody in Blaenau Gwent and Wales to vote No in the AV referendum, on May 5th. The Alternative Vote is not going to fix our politics. In fact it will create a system which gives way too much power to the Lib Dems – this is patently unfair.
On the other side of the debate, despite high-profile support for the Yes campaign from Welsh Labour politicians such as Peter Hain, Neil Kinnock and Chris Bryant don’t expect to see much campaigning from someone like the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, even though he supports a Yes vote.
The Yes campaign here in Wales, by the way, is expected to be launched next Monday.