In recent posts I have supported the idea of taking issues of electoral and wider constitutional reform out of the hands of the party elites and adopting a consultative citizens' convention process to develop reform proposals. As many readers will be aware, this is by no means a brand new idea. It has been tried, successfully, elsewhere.
Back in 2005 the state of Ontario decided that it would reform its electoral system by convening a citizens' assembly. The assembly reported in 2007, after a lengthy consultation process involving many local meetings and individual submissions. It recommended a form of proportional representation for elections to the Ontario state legislature.
Part of the rationale for the citizens' assembly was that this process would take the issue of electoral reform on to relatively neutral ground. If the decision was confined to the political parties, the decision would inevitably be skewed - and would be seen by citizens as being skewed - by calculations of party advantage. By involving citizens directly in a deliberative, consultative process, a reform could be achieved which would represent a genuine popular will, rather than a party fix. And this would enhance the legitimacy of the political system.
Similarly, in the UK at present, its clear that the various proposals for electoral reform floating around largely reflect calculations of party advantage. To say this is not to be 'cynical'. Its just basic poltiical science. So adopting a citizens' convention process is crucial to giving electoral reform integrity and (hence) legitimacy.
However, by doing the right thing, its possible that Labour could in this case also gain some party advantage. If Labour were to come out in favour of a citizens' convention process it would certainly help give the Brown government some of the momentum and sense of mission it is looking to regain.
So, even if you only care about Labour's interests (!), why not follow Ontario's lead?