Ed Miliband: the real loser from the AV vote
written by: Nick Wood
One man cannot lose in tomorrow’s referendum on AV.
A Yes vote is Armageddon for David Cameron as the Tory Party prepares to rise up in revolt against the man who risked its birthright for a mess of pottage.
A No vote is an earthquake for the Coalition government. Nick Clegg is left clinging to office as his party snaps at his heels for failing to secure any real price for propping up a Conservative administration. Cameron has a crisis on his hands as he scrabbles for baubles to help Clegg survive his defeat.
So Ed Miliband is the winner whatever the score?
That’s the conventional wisdom around Westminster. Labour’s young untried Leader is the one victor from the referendum vote.
But there is an alternative hypothesis. Miliband’s endemic caution has denied him a great opportunity to destroy the Coalition and trigger an almost immediate general election he stands a great chance of winning.
Miliband has come out as a lukewarm Yes. About 130 Labour MPs and some 800 Labour councillors are declared supporters of the No camp. Faced with this stern refusal on the Left to row in behind the latest metropolitan Hampstead cause, Miliband has kept his head down, only notionally backing AV. This is hardly the smack of firm leadership.
But he could have grabbed the wheel. He could have positioned himself as the unalloyed leader of the anti-AV camp. He could have condemned the shabby little compromise of the Cameron/Clegg coalition and denounced AV as an affront to democracy. He could have been the clear winner tomorrow rather than the man who jumped clear of a train wreck.
A sustained Tory-Labour coalition would have produced an 85 per cent vote against tearing up an electoral system that remains the bedrock of democracy in 50 of the world’s major countries. The Lib Dems would have been annihilated and Clegg would have been toast. The Coalition would have fallen apart and a general election would have been on the cards. Ed would have been PM at the tender age of 41 within a few weeks.
Miliband bottled out. He played it safe and waited to pick up the spoils. But it is not working out that way. The latest poll gives Cameron and the No camp a staggering 66 per cent of the poll. It will come out less than that but Cameron will emerge the clear winner from tomorrow night. The Tory Right will be stilled; the Lib Dems rebuffed ; Miliband sidelined. The Coalition, inherently unsustainable, will limp on for a few more months.
Cameron is a lucky general.