Today is the day for Parliamentary ping pong on the Parliamentary Voting System & Constituencies Bill. The first issue up was whether or not the referendum result on AV should be binding in all circumstances. Lord Rooker proposed that if the turnout is less than 40% then the result is advisory and Parliament makes the final decision. Clearly if the turnout were 35% and the result clear it would be unwise for Parliament not to agree, but it offers the flexibility not to proceed with such a big constitutional change if the turnout is low and the result very close.
What was fascinating was that when this was voted on last week the Government lost by just one. This time they lost by 62. The Tory rebellion grew from 10 to 27 – including such names as Michael Forsyth, Norman Tebbit, Norman Lamont, Nigel Lawson, Geoffrey Howe, and Brian Mawhinney.
This sends a strong signal to the Government. They need to compromise rather than just ping it back to us again later.