A year ago I would have happily have voted in favour of the AV system. The idea that the successful candidate at an election would at least have the support of a majority of the electorate in a constituency seemed attractive, even though it was some way short of full proportional representation. I could also understand why Liberal Democrats were upset at their relatively low representation in parliament in comparison to their share of the vote. This did seem unfair to me.
So now we have a ConDem coalition in which the Lib Dems have become indistinguishable from the Tories. Their leadership argues in support of Tory policies and politicians, abandons its principles and pledges and, seemingly out of loyalty to the coalition, has lost its distinctive voice. It seems unable to bring itself to criticise the Tories, even though Michael Gove is set upon implementing a very personal and stilted view of educational needs, Andrew Lansley is surreptitiously dismantling parts of the NHS and George Osborne is pursuing a policy of cuts the Lib Dems previously argued against. Vince Cable has become a shadow of his former self and Nick Clegg is increasingly exposed as lacking personal credibility.
Whatever you think of the Lib Dems, this inability to express itself is making politics the poorer. It also, in my view, is why it was short-sighted and wrong for them to enter into a coalition with the Tories. Whilst I can understand they were in a difficult position, the best they should have offered the Tories is some sort of pact and should not have accepted ministerial positions. This would still have given them some influence over Tory policies whilst giving them greater independence. Time will tell, but there is a real possibility that the Lib Dems will be decimated in the next local and national elections.
Now where does this leave AV? As things stand it now seems we have only two main parties. If a general election were held next month under AV who could I vote for and give preferences for? Well, not the Tories under any circumstances and not the Lib Dems because I could not trust them to deliver their promises and because I can’t tell them apart from the Tories. So my votes would go as follows:
Green Party (I think Caroline Lucas is doing a great job for the Greens)
Monster Raving Loony Party
And as I understand it, if enough people gave a preference for the Loonies they could actually win the seat by default (as could the BNP and UKIP). So for that reason I will not vote in favour of the AV system and, as an unintended consequence of entering into a coalition, the Lib Dems have inadvertently damaged their own case for AV/PR