I must take issue with one or two of the things Jeff has said in relation to the coalition's (frankly outrageous) decision to hold the AV referendum on the same day as the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections next May. Firstly, AV is categorically not a "more proportional voting system". In some circumstances, it might produce a slightly more proportional outcome, in other circumstances a slightly less proportional outcome - that's all totally random chance. AV is every bit as much a non-proportional, majoritarian voting system as the one we currently have. I'll probably still hold my nose and vote for it, though, because it does at least remove one of the other problems thrown up by first-past-the-post - namely the tyranny of having to choose between a tactical vote for a candidate you don't support, and an honest vote for your favoured candidate that might prove catastrophically counter-productive. The classic example is the support for Ralph Nader in 2000 that effectively handed George W Bush the US presidency - under AV, those voters could simply have ranked Nader 1st, Gore 2nd, and all would have been right with the world.
As for the referendum date itself, the problem is not so much that there was insufficient consultation (ie. none at all), it's that the coalition would even contemplate such an unjustifiable move in the first place. The Liberal Democrats have already ridden roughshod over the central findings of the Gould Report by agreeing to schedule the next Westminster general election for the same day as the 2015 Holyrood poll, and now the 2011 election is to be compromised in much the same way. Remember Gould's words? The interests of the voters were at every stage "treated as an afterthought". Funny how history repeats itself with such depressing rapidity. The first sign of a potential electoral advantage for the Liberal Democrats and the integrity of the electoral process is instantly deemed disposable yet again.
Presumably the calculation is that Scottish and Welsh voters are particularly likely to vote for AV, and therefore an especially high turnout in those countries will assist the cause. The price will be that the devolved elections become hopelessly muddled up with a UK-wide issue, with the London parties receiving far more than their fair share of coverage during the campaign period. And what do you want to bet that the broadcasters are already itching to hold a series of ninety-minute UK-wide "Referendum Debates" in the run-up to polling, with perhaps Nick Clegg and David Miliband being pitted against David Cameron and A N Other? Back in April, Lady Smith said one of the problems with the SNP's legal challenge was that it came too late. I suggest they lodge their papers very, very early this time.