I am looking forward immensely to the AV contest on 22nd March.
No, not the referendum clash between Margaret Beckett and Lord Prescott (for the “No” campaign) and Helena Bonham-Carter and Colin Firth (for “Yes”) on 5th May.
Instead I have in mind the by-election for a Hereditary Peer to replace the veteran Labour Lord Strabolgi, who died just before Christmas. As Lady Murphy explained here on 11th February, this election has to use the Alternative Vote process. This will not only be identical to the AV system which has been debated exhaustively for well over 100 hours in the Lords in recent weeks but also to many other electoral arrangements in and out of Parliament.
What will be especially intriguing will be to note how many Peers – having declared their undying contempt, hostility and outright rejection of AV in the these debates – will abstain on principle in this poll. So many Labour Peers have so declared, despite their own Leader’s advocacy of AV, that consistency would suggest mass abstention. Conservative sceptics of the merits of AV may be more pragmatic. After all, the replacement for Lord Strabolgi does not have to be a Labour supporter…