So the wash-up has been concluded and has left the AV referendum proposals washed-up on the rocky shore of Conservative self-interest. Gordon Brown has since come out with re-affirmed plans to hold an AV referendum early in the next parliament though. It is absolutely imperative that we emerge from this election with the possibility of these plans being put into action. If the conservatives get a majority, electoral reform will not be on the agenda and there's a real risk that Labour will not be so keen for reform next time around when they look to capitalise on the failures of Cameron and co.
It is quite possible that this election will be the best possibility for meaningful electoral reform in a generation, so all Lib Dems should be doing our utmost to ensure it happens. What should this mean on the ground? Sadly it means abandoning our principles in the Labour/Tory marginals and voting with our brains and not our hearts. A vote for the Liberal Democrats where we have no chance of winning and where the race could be tight IS a wasted vote that risks consigning our party to a fringe role for many years to come. A tactical vote for the Labour party in such seats increases the possibility of a hung parliament, gives the AV referendum proposal a real chance of becoming reality, and gives the Lib Dems a genuine chance at meaningful power at the next election. The end of tactical voting could give the Lib Dems a majority at Westminster within a couple of years if we cooperate to achieve the AV reforms and then stand well back as the Labour government fails to get to grips with the deficit to the population's satisfaction.
We also need to get the message out to genuine supporters of fringe parties that they should be supporting the Lib Dems in every seat we have any chance of winning. For The Greens, UKIP, and even the BNP the wise vote is for the party that has a commitment to proportional representation. Of course I have no expectation that many BNP supporters will be able to cast a "wise vote" but one has to try.
So Nick. Please ease off on Labour a little and please come up with better ammunition against the Tories than your not-very-credible VAT bombshell. We need to use our brains in this election so that the population can vote (for us) with their conscience in the future.
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