A little while back, I made a quip on Facebook about how the Lib Dem left and Tory right could be brought around to the coalition if the parties agreed to referendums on PR and EU membership. I was taking the mick at the time, but I’m not so sure now.
The thing is, it is beginning to dawn on many Lib Dems that AV, even if the referendum is won, may actually do more harm to the party than first past the post, whereas PR would actually allow the party to lose votes and still get its fair share of seats.
The problem is, AV has been agreed to in the coalition programme, and surely the only people who can change that are the two parties. But supposing a group of Lib Dem and Tory MPs jointly wrote to their leaders calling for a referendum on PR (for the Lib Dems) and EU membership (for the eurosceptic Tories)? Something for both sides, and something that may actually create two referendums that the public may be enthused about. Both parties will take different sides, but there’s no harm in that. The key factor for both groups of backbenchers is that although they may disagree with the central propositions, both agree that it would be up to the British people to decide.
Cameron really would not like it, as he would have to come out on a Vote Yes to Stay platform, but so what? It resolves the issue.
What would be interesting will be how Labour would respond to an EU referendum?