Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Great AV Referendum Debate

Opposition grows towards AV referendum

SNP MSP Bob Doris - the Deputy Convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee - has said that the UK government must listen to the voices of concern and opposition about their AV referendum expressed today in the Daily Mail by the convener of the interim Electoral Management Board for Scotland and in the Scotsman by a LibDem MSP.
Tom Aitchison, the convener of the interim Electoral Management Board for Scotland, has expressed concerns about holding the UK government's AV referendum on the same day as the Scottish parliament poll.
In addition Jim Tolson - LibDem MSP for Dunfermline West - is reported as saying he is "very much against the inclusion of a referendum on the same day as the Scottish election".
Commenting, Mr Doris said:
"The Tories and LibDems are pursuing a disrespect agenda when it comes to Scottish electors and the AV referendum.
"It is particularly embarrassing for the LibDems that one of their constituency MSPs is voicing opposition since this policy is the flagship for Nick Clegg.
"It is even more important that they listen to the warnings by Tom Aitchison and other returning officers. The suggestion that the Holyrood election result could be disrupted or delayed because of the AV poll should ring alarm bells, especially after the fiasco which saw more than a 100,000 Scots voters disenfranchised in 2007 because of Westminster's botched running of Scotland's elections.
"Leaving Scottish voters in limbo over their new Parliament while a referendum vote is counted is unacceptable. In the present situation voters will be more concerned about who and how Scotland will be governed rather than know the results of a referendum on a policy no party holds."
"If the Tories and Lib Dems do not heed these warnings they will only cement the view that this is part of disrespect agenda towards Scotland."
Meanwhile at Westminster the SNP will today argue for amendments to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill which would ensure that the date of a referendum does not clash with elections to the devolved administrations.
SNP Electoral Reform spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP said:
"By holding the AV referendum on the same day there is a real danger of the Scottish Parliamentary elections being overshadowed and the issues that really matter to the people of Scotland being eclipsed by a media focus on an electoral system that is not supported by any of the political parties.
"Failure to consult the devolved administrations exposes the Tory/LibDem Disrespect Agenda. It's time coalition minsters started listening to the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and indeed their own back benchers and stepped back from these outrageous proposals immediately."

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