Yum! Kippers!The Alternative Vote referendum in 2011 was one of the most cynical episodes in modern British politics – very few of its notional supporters much liked AV, almost all its opponents preferred First Past The Post for perceived selfish political advantage, and the minor point of representative principle which this change would have made was barely discussed.

The Tories in particular objected because they feared AV would make an outright majority permanently beyond them, and that they’d have to deal again with the Lib Dems in 2015 if they wanted to stay in office, a strange concern given how small an obstacle the yellows have proved to the Tories’ promotion of a hard-right economic agenda.

The logic of the Tory opposition also assumed that those people who still plan to vote Lib Dem (for reasons most people find hard to ascertain) would have given their second preference to Labour, and that Labour second preferences in Lib-Dem/Tory marginals would flow to Team Clegg despite their coalition record.

The first of these ideas is less plausible than the second, given that the residual Lib Dem voters are hardly the left of the 2010 cohort of Lib Dem voters. No matter. The partisan calculation in Tory Central Office was of a divided centre-left and a united (Tory) right. No more.

For all that the ‘kippers are undoubtedly correct to say that they will have led some to vote who would have abstained, and for all that some UKIP votes have come from non-Tory parties, the fact is that the march of Farage’s ragtag army disproportionately splits the vote on the right, and that most UKIP voters would be likely to have put the Tories second in 2015 had the AV vote passed. There’s no principled satisfaction here from seeing the Tory maths collapse, merely schadenfreude at the irony. Without UKIP voters’ second preferences, that second Cameron term now looks much less likely, despite the growing realisation that Ed Miliband will flounder in the heat of a proper election campaign. And Britain, with or without Scotland, will still have a grossly unrepresentative Parliament elected under rules that belong in the 19th century, not the 21st. Regrets? Surely the Prime Minister is starting to have a few.