Nick Clegg thinks its "disrespectful" of 44 Tory MPs to think that voters in Scotland and Wales cannot vote on 2 issues on the same day - he said so yesterday at Deputy PMQs. He should probably tell that to Ron Gould and the 140,000 voters in Scotland who spoiled papers in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election as they were invited to vote on both it and the local authority election on the same day.
The Deputy PM's idea for holding the AV referendum on the same day as Scottish Parliamentary and Welsh Assembly elections is supposedly about cost - with an apparent saving of £17m if it goes ahead on that day (as opposed to decoupling the two events and having them on different days). Strange for me, that Clegg's point of principle, a semi-proportional electoral system should be a matter for such penny-pinching.
Also, I don't suppose he has given much thought to the potential outcome of the vote and the fact that it will be held alongside two national elections in Scotland and Wales and none in England. Think this one through from a Tory perspective for a minute. Say people in Scotland and Wales ARE convinced of the argument for AV and vote, possibly 80-20% in favour on a turnout average for devolution of around 60%. Now consider England is predominantly not in favour, for argument sake, 80-20% against. But given there is no other election on in England at the time, turnout is merely 15% (less than the European Election in 2009).
What I'm trying to say is this: what happens if the electoral system is changed to AV on the fact that turnout in Scotland and Wales is high and in England it is low?
It's hardly fair that England gets saddled with an electoral system they don't want on the back of Scotland and Wales voting for it. Or is that Clegg's intention? Make the case in Scotland and Wales, ignore England and hope no one bothers to show up. Which they probably won't. He gets AV.
No wonder the Tory MPs are against the proposals.