In terms of reforming and re-invigorating politics a Labour win will merely mean a referendum on AV, a second rate electoral system which is neither proportional nor gets rid of safe seats. A Tory win will mean no change at all, with continued partisan minority rule and continued scope for corruption.
However, if Nick Clegg can repeat his triumph there is a real possibility that the Liberal Democrat surge will continue and, whatever result the present flawed electoral system produces in seats, a vote equal to or greater than that of the other parties will enable the Liberal Democrats to insist on the Rolls Royce of electoral systems, the single transferable vote, which gives the maximum voter choice, the maximum of proportionality while maintaining the link with constituencies, abolishes the safe seat and thus will genuinely transform our politics.
Fortunately, as Jackie Ashley kindly pointed out in Mondays Guardian (19/04/10) in a debate mainly devoted to foreign affairs, the Liberal Democrats have a strong hand to play:
- being right on Iraq;
- opposition to the unquestioning "like for like" replacement of Trident;
- consistent support for positive engagement in the EU: perhaps not the most popular of policies at the moment, but one that can shine compared with New Labour's "shame-faced and half hearted" record on this issue, and the "inconsistencies and unanswered questions in Conservative policy."