Reject Labour's Opening Bid

The numbers still aren't final, but in my ideal world Labour and the LibDems would between them get about five more seats than the Tories. More than ten, and the Plaid/SNP bloc of nine won't be necessary in order to hold the balance of power.

What Labour are offering in terms of electoral reform is pretty clear:

     •  Fixed-term parliaments (every four years)
     •  A House of Lords elected by Single Transferable Vote
     •  A House of Commons elected by Alternative Vote

They might also throw in STV for Holyrood and Cardiff Bay (STV is already used for Stormont, so that can't be too big an issue) because that's small beer to Labour compared with control of the Commons. The crucial point is that Labour are not, at present, offering STV to elect the Commons because any form of proportionality will remove their current unfair advantage.

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So Nick Clegg needs to hold out for more ... and so, if Plaid and the SNP are part of the equation, must we. This is just an opening bid, not a final offer. We might just settle for AV Plus, but if so the proportion of additional members will be crucial. If it's more than a third, we might be talking turkey. If less, forget it.

Of course if Labour don't offer enough, the Tories will offer the LibDems something more (and they won't need to bother with Plaid and the SNP). In the end I'm sure they will offer full STV even though they themselves don't support it, because they think the referendum will be lost. So Labour, if they want to remain in power, have to go the whole way and offer full STV.

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Of course the Tories' opening bid will be that they will not countenance any electoral reform at all. But don't be fooled by that. If Cameron wants to be Prime Minister he's going to have to give way.

And Labour, in turn, will keep saying "the Tories won't give you STV, so the only choice is to deal with us" ... but that's just a ploy to avoid having to include any element of proportionality in their package of electoral reform for the Commons.

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3 comments:

Siônnyn said...

Cameron has just offered Clegg a committee of enquiry on electoral reform - Big Deal! We all know what happens to these reports - remember the Richards report? They get shelved if they don't say what the PM wants them to say!

Cibwr said...

Remember the Jenkins Report, offering AV+ with the additional seats being 20 - 25% of the total....

Here the Lib Dems have to decide what is in the long term interest of the UK or themselves. If they go into coalition with Labour they need Labour to agree to officially campaign in favour in a referendum (no chance of reform without one) and not expect the leadership to campaign against.

At the moment Labour can get a minority coalition together with the tacit support of the SNP, Plaid and the sole Green (I assume the SDLP being counted as part of Labour as they take its whip).

MH said...

Yes, we need a package that can be put in a referendum within a year at most. The Jenkins Commission did all the spadework years ago. There's no need to do it all over again.

We need to act urgently rather than let momentum drop. Read this article by George Monbiot and join www.takebackparliament.com.

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