Wednesday 8 July 2009

AJ for PR

The Independent runs a commentary piece from Home Secretary Alan Johnson, continuing his push for a referendum on electoral reform. This is extracted from a piece in the new Fabian Review, published later this month. We will also be publishing some new polling on political reform.

Keir Hardie's founding manifesto for the Labour Representation Committee included votes for women, a Scottish Parliament, Lords reform and proportional representation. The Tories were traditionally against all four. They have modified their approach to the first; have been roundly defeated on the second; and have been forced by their parliamentary leadership to swear a superficial allegiance to the third.

Johnson hints that the debate inside government may be moving in his broad direction, if not necessarily towards his precise proposal:

AV+ maintains the constituency link, ensures that MPs have majority support (thus actually strengthening that link), would deny any seats to parties with less than 11 per cent support and provides greater proportionality whilst meeting his remit for stable government.I have argued for the British people to be given a choice. I may not be able to convince colleagues that this should be the precise outcome of the debate on how to make progress on this aspect of constitutional renewal. However, I work for a leader who accepts the need for that renewal, with electoral reform as an essential element.

The Vote for a Change campaign are holding a launch rally tomorrow - Thursday 9th July - at Methodist Central Hall at 6.30pm in Westminster.

They have a new campaign website, where you can sign up for the event and join the campaign for a referendum. (I am among their launch signatories).

Details include:

There will be music from Billy Bragg and a surprise guest, poetry from Dave Neita and a chance to put some politicians on the spot – including, Jo Swinson MP, Peter Tatchell, Green Party and Gerald Batten MEP as well as a speech from Dave Rowntree (Blur) and Oona King.


Charlie Marks said...

Good stuff from AJ. I suppose there'll be the usual "it's part of his campaign for leader" talk in the media rather than a debate of the issue. So it goes.

The ministers support on this issue is much appreciated.

Stuart White said...

AJ deserves many thanks for coming out in favour of 'AV plus' and sticking to his guns. While I would prefer an even more proportional system, akin to the German AMS, AV plus is much fairer than straight AV which too many people at the top of the Labour party seem to think represents radical electoral reform.