By Ray Fleming

I f the polls are anywhere near correct the big loser at today's elections in the UK will be the Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. Because of the cyclical nature of local elections Labour are likely to gain between 600 and 1'000 council seats from the Conservatives and LibDems but David Cameron is expecting compensation from the referendum rejection of Alternative Voting, an outcome which has become more important to his leadership of the party for the moment than winning council seats. For Mr Clegg, however, the prospect is of losing the referendum, which is a LIbDem reform project, as well as council seats -- an unwelcome double-whammy.

There is little chance of a last minute surge for the Yes vote in the AV referendum.
The nearly ten-point poll advantage of the No vote has been shrinking a little but the old-fashioned Conservative-style campaign of threats of what to expect if AV wins -- babies will die, soldiers will be put at risk, the Monster Raving Looney Party will determine the outcome of elections -- seems to have worked.

Key issue
This week Nick Clegg returned to the key issue of the referendum -- “In the 21st century how can we have a system that ends up with hundreds of MPs with jobs for life who don't even need to get 50 per cent of the vote?” How indeed?