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AV Special Edition

A threat to democracy.

A miserable little compromise.

A miracle cure that kills 99.9% of all domestic germs, dead.

A measure that will make lazy MPs work harder.

Only one of those things has NOT been said of the Alternative Vote in the run-up to the referendum on May 5th 2011. Can you spot the odd one out?

Given the hyper-ventilated, caffeine-charged nature of the Yes and No campaigns, possibly not. For if anybody hoped the referendum on AV would be the occasion for people to soberly consider how they would like to be represented and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of First Past the Post and AV they will have been very disappointed. Instead the campaigns have dished up dubious charge, bogus counter-charge, juvenile stunts (see picture above) and even the threat of legal action. Who do they think they are, Premier League football managers?

Who or what is to blame? The way the choice was constructed in the first place? The nature of the rival campaigns? Or the sheer lack of interest on the part of the wonderful British public?

These are questions we will be able to answer after May 5th. In the meantime here are some of our contributions to the Great Debate that Never Was.

Steven Fielding looks at what happens when historians get involved in the AV debate.

Christopher Burgess assesses the negative nature of both the Yes and No campaigns.

Steven Fielding casts his eye back to when Labour first seemed to embrace AV, in the 1930s, and what lessons that has for the present.

Finally, Philip Cowley does what few have done during this campaign: he gives you the unalloyed facts.

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