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).
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.