There are many comic things about British politics right now, and one of them is the way in which the
entirely loathsome creature and great champion of electoral reform, Nick Clegg is reckoned last year to have called the Alternative Vote, for which he is now campaigning so enthusiastically, a “miserable little compromise”.
Yesterday, however, I read this, in tehgraun:
Clegg claimed his remark did not refer to the voting system itself but to the previous Labour’s government’s attempt to shoehorn in a promise of AV that had little chance of being delivered.
He said: “I’ve had this a lot. What I was actually referring to was Gordon Brown’s suggestion, very late in the day in his government, of making changes that everyone knew would not come into effect …
“I was talking about the Labour party’s offer in the latter days of its government which it had no way of implementing.”
How interesting, if true. Let’s now go to the original source. Here’s Andrew Grice, political editor of the Independent, on 22 April 2010:
Nick Clegg will demand that Gordon Brown improves on his “miserable little compromise” of limited electoral reform as the price of propping up Labour in a hung parliament.
In an interview with The Independent, the Liberal Democrat leader rejected Labour’s proposals for electoral reform, which stop short of proportional representation (PR), and insisted on a truly proportional system for electing MPs.
Mr Clegg said the latest opinion polls, which suggest Labour could come third in the share of the vote but cling on to power, would make the campaign for PR unstoppable: “It is not going to be a question of us propping up [another party] but of us insisting on the changes only we advocate.”
Raising his party’s sights, he declared: “Everyone says the only question is whether we could support another party. But I think it is now much more open than this. We are going for broke. I want to try to push this all the way.”
Until now, the Liberal Democrats have suggested they would accept the alternative vote (AV), with people listing candidates in order of preference, on which Labour has promised a referendum next year. But Mr Clegg is now demanding the “alternative vote plus” system, which unlike AV is proportional and was recommended by Lord Jenkins of Hillhead in 1998.
Mr Clegg said: “AV is a baby step in the right direction – only because nothing can be worse than the status quo. If we want to change British politics once and for all, we have got to have a quite simple system in which everyone’s votes count. We think AV-plus is a feasible way to proceed. At least it is proportional – and it retains a constituency link.
“The Labour Party assumes that changes to the electoral system are like crumbs for the Liberal Democrats from the Labour table. I am not going to settle for a miserable little compromise thrashed out by the Labour Party.”
What a squalid little liar he is.