Tory media bashes referendum; Breakthrough hopes for Scotland
Tory media bashes referendum; Breakthrough hopes for Scotland

The coalition government in London of David Cameron’s Tories and Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats is under strain following a Tory ‘black propoganda’ campaign to discredit the Alternative Vote system prior to today’s referendum in Britain.

The AV system allows voters to the Westminster parliament in London to name a second preference candidate if their first preference fails to be elected. It is a simplification of the single transferable vote system used in Ireland.

The referendum was part of the deal by which the Lib Dems agreed to enter government with the Tories and make Cameron Prime Minister. It has the potential to change the electoral landscape in London and boost the representation of Britain’s smaller parties.

However, it has faced an intense right-wing propoganda campaign, particularly from the tabloid media, and support for the referendum has plummetted in recent months.

Clegg blasted what he said were Cameron’s “lies, misinformation and deceit” during campaigning this week.

In February, the British Prime Minister told Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids: “The Government would have to spend money explaining the system to voters and buying voting machines to make sense of it all.”

He said that that the proportional representation system “would take power away from the people” and warned of a rise in support for smaller parties, particularly the ultra-right BNP.

“AV would mean that votes of some people get counted more than others,” he declared. “It is obscure, it’s unfair, it’s expensive, it could mean that people who come third in elections will end up winning.”

The Tory chairman, Baroness Warsi suggested the vote system would benefit terrorist groups and could give rise to violence. She warned supporters of the referendum were “backing a system that rewards extremism and gives oxygen to extremist groups”.

An end of campaign poll for the Guardian newspaper has predicted a 68% no vote against just 32% for yes, an almost complete reversal of the position at the start of the campaign.

Clegg’s own leadership is now on the line as the referendum was a key point in his controversial decision to opt for a right-wing coalition with the Tories over a progressive coalition with Labour and the nationalist parties.

He said: “This nasty No campaign, I hope, will prove to be the death rattle of a right-wing elite, a right-wing clique who want to keep things the way they are. That’s why they are lashing out.”

The final result could yet be affected by turnout, notably in London, where no local elections are taking place and the referendum is the only issue before voters today.


The Scottish National Party (SNP) appears set for a clear victory in the Scottish parliamentary elections on Thursday, but is still battling to win enough votes to place an independence referendum before voters.

An opinion poll for Scottish Television on Tuesday night forecast 61 seats for the SNP in the country’s 129-member devolved parliament, 32 seats for Labour, and 27 for the Tories, nine for the Liberal Democrats, and eight for the Green Party.

That would be a significant advance on the 47 seats the SNP won in the 2007 election when it finished one seat ahead of Labour.

But it would still leave the SNP at the head of a minority government, while the other London-based parties have said they will band together to frustrate any popular move towards independence.

On the eve of the election, Mr Salmond told journalists: “There are many voters thinking of voting for the SNP, perhaps for the very first time. If we are re-elected – a strong Scottish government, working for Scotland – we’ll repay that trust.”

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