Game changing

I would not want to second guess the outcome of the current talks between the LibDems and Tories, even thought they have faltered. It may well be that both sides have gone as far as cordial negotiation can take them, and the LibDems now need to play hard ball to force them to go further, by turning to talk to Labour instead.

And so they have. The news that George Osborne has offered a referendum on AV but not STV has just broken as I'm writing this ... which is a clear indication of what the sticking point was, and how far short of what was required the Tories' previous offer had been. It now matches Labour's referendum offer ... but it still won't be enough. The referendum must include STV as one of the options. In my opinion it isn't worth trying to cobble together the sort of compromise that the Jenkins Commission came up with. Let's put the real thing on the table (alongside the Tory and Labour options of course) and leave it up to us the electorate to decide which we want.


But the beauty of the situation—from Plaid's point of view—is that even if Labour and the LibDems can agree, they don't have the numbers to get a majority. They need others. Now of course Plaid, the SNP and the Greens want to see STV included in the referendum even more than the LibDems, if that were possible. So, even if the LibDems are tempted by Labour to compromise on STV (by offering AV plus for example, along with a whole host of cabinet seats) they won't get it through because they need our support as well.

My message is exactly the same. We have a once in a generation opportunity to get a fair electoral system. We must not let it slip.

Update 19:55

Just heard on Channel 4 News that Labour are now offering a whipped vote on AV—that means we would get AV without the need for a referendum—followed by a referendum on a system with an element of proportionality. I have to say that this sounds a little dodgy to me. I'm not entirely sure about whether it's constitutionally possible, but that's hard to determine in a state that doesn't have a constitution. The default position is probably that parliament can do whatever it wants unless it's challenged.

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Cibwr said...

I don't think they would get a whipped AV vote through the Lords without a referendum. And yes we should push for a preferendum with voters ordering their choices in order of preference.

MH said...

Good point, Cibwr. And of course the challenge mechanism to proposed legislation is scrutiny by Commons Committees and well as the Lords Constitution Committee.

Yet I'm watching the BBC now and Michael Gove has not kicked up a fuss about it. He is talking as if it could be done ... though of course he thinks it would be a bad thing if it were to be done.

Anonymous said...

AV sound worse than FPTP to me. It's neither fish nor fowl.

Ci Du

Anonymous said...

Has anyone conducted an opinion poll to show what would happen in individual constituencies should STV be adopted?


MH said...

Ci Du, AV does have some advantages. It eliminates the need for tactical voting and it allows a rival candidate from the same party to stand (think Peter Law) without any danger of splitting the vote. But it isn't proportional.


Colwyn, It's hard to say, because we can only guess at what people's second, third and subsequent preferences would be.

Penddu and myself gave it a go for Assembly elections in Wales here and here.

It's one of the things I've blogged about quite a lot. If anyone wants to read just those post for some background info on the various systems, click the "Electoral reform" label at the top of this post or on the right.

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