I blogged here a couple of weeks ago about the possibility that moving to AV could hurt the Lib Dems as it would mean Labour and Conservative voters would no longer vote for them to keep the other big party out.
Part of what triggered that blog was the news that the Tories’ chief whip had shown potential rebels against the AV referendum bill a list of vulnerable MPs should the reform go through. That list was apparently populated by more Lib Dems than Tories.
And the suggestion that the Tories could do well out of AV (contrary to the findings of this poll by YouGov for the Spectator) is backed up by a fresh poll out today by Populus for the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft.
Tim Montgomerie on ConservativeHome blogs Lord Ashcroft’s six main findings:
- Labour would gain 16 to 28 Tory-held seats where they are in second place, if the election was held today.
- The Liberal Democrats would lose 19 to 30 seats that they currently hold where the Conservatives are second.
- The net gains under First Past The Post would be +28 for Labour and +2 for Conservatives.
- Under AV the net gains would be +16 for Labour and +3 for the Conservatives.
- 21% of the 6,000 voters in the Populus/ Ashcroft poll said that the Liberal Democrats were having a “significant” impact on the Coalition’s policies. 51% said “some” influence. 23% said “virtually no” influence.
- In terms of attacking the Coalition Budget there is tactical advice for Labour. By 59% to 39% Labour is losing the argument on timing of cuts with majorities in all categories of marginal seats saying that it is right to start cutting now. Labour would be on much stronger ground if they focused on the impact of cuts on “ordinary hardworking people”. Only 32% of voters think George Osborne’s adjustments are fairly distributed. 64% think “ordinary” families are bearing the brunt of tax rises and cuts.
The heavy losses for the Lib Dems, it should be noted, are not so because of AV but because of a general meltdown in the polls. But if AV doesn’t help give them a much stronger foothold in the Commons, party members might feel their one shot at lasting power has come to nothing.