A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Backing AJ on fair votes

When I first got involved in Labour politics my great passion - critics might say obsession - was the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform - the fight for a fair, proportional voting system where a vote in safe Hackney or Tory Canterbury has as much influence on the election result as one in a marginal seat.

Over the years I’ve prioritised other issues but someone just started broadcasting on my wavelength.

Sorry to upset my many anti-electoral reform allies on other issues, but we need a final Great Reform Act in this country to give control of Parliament to the people. Labour can’t fight for equality without fighting for every vote to have an equal value.


Anonymous Labour Supporter said...

Fully agree.

8:08 pm, May 25, 2009

Anonymous tim f said...

Sorry, but there is no system of voting that gives every vote an "equal value", even if that were the most important feature of a voting system.

Were we to have a referendum on voting systems, I'd vote for FPTP as the best of a flawed bunch.

8:16 pm, May 25, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weren't all your mates working for the FPTP campaign in the old AEEU, Tom Watson ran the operation I believe

8:48 pm, May 25, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Yeah that's who I'm apologising for upsetting!

8:50 pm, May 25, 2009

Anonymous Jed Keenan said...

I prefer not to governed by Belfast or by the Lib Dems, or have the BNP in the Palace. First Past the Post ticks every box so far. Green Party okay, I see some sense there but the cost is a Lib Dem government for, give or take, ever and opposed by UKIP and Tories or Labour and Greens. It is simply disproportionate power going to fringe parties and so is going to be less democratic.
Welcome back Luke.

8:56 pm, May 25, 2009

Anonymous Ernst Thälmann said...

PR never
Remember 1933

10:43 pm, May 25, 2009

Anonymous Snouts in the Trough said...

A GREEN councillor has slammed her 56 fellow council members at the Town Hall for accepting a £27-a-year rise in allowances in the middle of the recession.

Green Party’s Mischa Borris was a lone dissenting voice when Hackney Council voted for the increase that adds up to 4p to the average council tax bill a year.

10:50 pm, May 25, 2009

Blogger Neil Harding said...

Luke - we disagree on a lot (Hazel Blears comes to mind) but you are so right about PR - lets hope we get it.

12:35 am, May 26, 2009

Blogger Dave Cole said...

I absolutely agree with you, Luke. Making every vote worth fighting for would regenerate parties - all of them - in some of the areas where they are just not competitive.

10:55 am, May 26, 2009

Anonymous James Thurston said...

Its very refreshing to see Alan Johnson and yourself support Electoral Reform....

I am a very ardent advocate of a Proportional System such as the Single Transferable Vote.....

There is now a compelling argument given the MP's expenses debacle for making the political process and system more transparent and accountable.... The First Past The Post system has been utterly discredited and is unfair.....

It was a great disappointment when New Labour under Tony Blair failed to deliver on Electoral Reform.... although in the light of the massive majorities Blair achieved in Westminster Parliamentary Elections I can see why such a policy became unattractive....

Even so, the Blair Government did deliver on Electoral Reform regarding Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections and also Elections to the Welsh Assembly....

Tony Blair started to embark on Constitutional and Electoral Reform and it must be up to Labour now to re-build its reputation regarding progressive politics by completing the process with a majority elected House of Lords, and the introduction of a Proportional Electoral System for Westminster Parliamentary Elections and Fixed Term Westminster Parliaments....

It is absurd that we have an Electoral System for our National Parliament which disenfranchises such a massive number of voters and hands the greatest electoral and political power to a very small number of voters in 'Swing' seats.... that is no Democracy....

In any case Political Representation in the House of Commons must reflect the plurality of Politics that resides not only within the Political Parties but above all among the voters of this Country.....

If members of the Labour Party are committed to Progressive values and politics and or are supporters of a genuine Third Way then it is logical that they be supporters of a truly Proportional Electoral System for our National Parliament and in Local Government in England....

The Labour Party has a Once in a Generation opportunity to empower the UK electorate and at the same time expose the False promises and claims the David Cameron and the Conservatives perpetuate that they are the true Party of Progressive Politics and Devolved Power....

Only Labour can deliver, the Conservatives cannot and will not deliver..... Labour must seize the opportunity with all the energy and effort it can muster....

So come on Labour Activists, MP's, Ministers and Gordon Brown get behind Alan Johnson and give him the support he needs.....!

11:24 am, May 26, 2009

Anonymous James Thurston said...

I forgot to mention that I very much favour a Referendum on a Proportional Electoral System and am in the interim more than prepared to support the introduction of AV+ as a progressive move to achieving STV in the longer term...

11:29 am, May 26, 2009

Blogger Jackart said...

Labour are talking about this, just as they are about to lose a FPTP election.

Electoral reform. The last refuge of the scoundrel.

12:32 pm, May 26, 2009

Anonymous James Thurston said...


I notice that according to your Blog Profile you are a Stockbroker and a Conservative.

It is popularly known that it is Stockbrokers, Investment Banks, Hedge Funds and their ilk in the City of London that many claim are the "Spivs and Speculators": the people and organisations who are principally responsible for the Economic Crisis that has engulfed the UK and the Globe...... I would like you to explain the greed and dishonesty of The City of London....

The M.P.'s Expenses Scandal is a disgrace however, it is not the M.P.'s who have severely damaged the livelihoods of the UK citizens it is The City and its like around the Globe that have inflicted economic pain on the Country.....

The Electoral System needs to be made more accountable and transparent and it is only the introduction of Electoral Reform that can be the centrepeice of such much needed reforms......

The financial services industry needs radical reform too.... Indeed The City of London needs to be restrained and forced to behave in the long term interests of the Country and its people as well as other industries, not in its own self interest.....

In addition as a Conservative you would say that Labour is only considering Electoral Reform on the basis that such a move would save the Party from annihilation under the current FPTP Electoral System..... In any case David Cameron does not support Proportional Representation as he knows full well that the Conservatives have benefitted hugely from First Past The Post over many many years. He also recognises that if PR was introduced the Conservatives would be Electorally and Politically marginalised as there is a Natural Left/ Centre-Left/ Centre majority in the UK.....

It is also known in some circles that David Cameron and the Conservatives are heavily backed by City of London Institutions.....

For Cameron to support PR and heavy regulation of The City would be for him to commit Political Suicide...!

Even if David Cameron wins the next GE and becomes Prime Minister - Heaven Help Us All - I very much look forward with Glee the Dangerous political traps lying in wait for him....!

3:34 pm, May 26, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So safe tory that Emily Thornberry came within 2000 of wiing in 2001. When was the last time the Conservative came within 2000 votes of wiing wither Hackney seats. Though I do agree with you about weighing votes, but my pill differs greatly. Get well soon.

6:49 pm, May 26, 2009

Blogger Mark Reckons said...

Good man Luke.

Great at least to see this issue at the top of the political agenda.

7:40 pm, May 26, 2009

Anonymous stuart said...

It's a shame to see so many Labour supporters backing FPTP. It's about to put you out of power for quite a while. And the Tories will probably only need barely more than a third of the vote to stay there.

9:18 pm, May 26, 2009

Anonymous Dirty Euro said...

I would prefer the second preference system. I think if we have PR then it could entrench some poor MPS at the top of lists, with better MPS in second place behind them.
Imagine if you were a tory and your region had a list with
1. Neil Hamilton
2. Winston Churchill.
So you have to vote for Hamilton to get Churchill.
The second preference system ensures a party hated by more than 50% of the public cannot win elections by just dividing the opposition like the tories did in the 80s.

10:45 pm, May 26, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Subject: A message from Dave Nellist

[From Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist]

To all CNWP supporters: Can you give us 3 in 2?

No2EU - Yes to Democracy is the trade union backed challenge in the European elections, in which many CNWP supporters are involved.

The coalition is campaigning against the Lisbon Treaty; against the export of jobs and factories and increasing use by multinationals of non-union agency labour; and against the EU’s privatisation agenda, where New Labour are proposing to sell-off a third of Royal Mail, and which could well be extended into services such as education and the NHS. The CNWP has donated £500 towards the election campaign.

As Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary and No2EU Convenor, explained this

“Today we’ve seen that the spotlight is at last turning on the EU gravy train and the levels of greed amongst MEP’s which make our Westminster MP’s look like rank amateurs when it comes to lining their pockets at our expense. No2EU is standing for public services, democracy and workers'
rights against the gravy train and the sleaze and corruption of the bosses'
and bankers' Europe.”

The No2EU election broadcasts kick off tonight and will roll out over the

Tuesday May 26th:
Channel Five - 6.55pm

Wednesday May 27th:
S4C - 7.25pm (Welsh language)
BBC 1 - 10.35pm (just after News at Ten) BBC Scotland - 10.35pm BBC Wales - 10.35pm BBC 2 - 11.20pm (just after Newsnight)

Friday May 29th:
ITV - 10.30pm (just after News at Ten)
ITV Wales - 10.30pm
ITV Scotland - 10.30pm

This week also sees several million No2EU leaflets delivered by Royal Mail to houses in most of the major conurbations.

In all likelihood, however, there will be a generally low turnout in the European elections; not only is there widespread dissatisfaction with the big three parties, but that is exacerbated by the anger at the continuing saga of MPs expenses. Many newspapers and opinion polls are predicting a rise in the number of votes that will go to parties not represented at Westminster. In 1999, 1.87 million voted for non-Westminster parties, in 2004 it was 5.5 million (34%). Some predictions have that figure rising to over 40% on June 4th. The question is, where will those votes go?

There is a real danger that disillusionment with the big parties may translate into an increased vote for the far right; so it is essential in this election that not only is a message sent as far and wide as possible not to vote for the BNP, but that a working class alternative is offered that people can vote for.

You could help in a major way with 3 jobs over the next 2 days:

1 Circulate all your e-mail contacts/Facebook friends with details of
the election broadcasts above. And ask them to forward them to their friends.
2 Visit the No2EU website http://www.facebook.com/l/;(www.No2EU.com) and register as a subscriber
to the e-mail announcements (you can add some friends’ e-mails there as
3 And if you can help this weekend in leafleting, in particular, areas that not getting the national leaflet - send an e-mail with your contact details to info@cnwp.org.uk, and we'll put you in touch with local campaigners.

Whatever the outcome in the European elections, the CNWP will need to discuss the lessons on how to build wider support in the future. The bigger the vote for No2EU on June 4th, the easier it will be to argue that similar, and hopefully even wider, coalitions should be built for a working class socialist alternative to challenge to the three big pro-business parties.

And if that is to happen for the next general election, which has to be called within 12 months, then it's a discussion we'll need to start soon after the Euro elections.

Many thanks for your help,


Cllr Dave Nellist
National Chair, Campaign for a New Workers' Party

11:47 am, May 27, 2009

Anonymous Rich said...

Funny how Labour are considering this when they are about to be thrown out of parliament.

What Brown should be doing is calling an election now and let the people decide what they want.

5:50 pm, May 27, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Strongly agree Luke. I think this would be batter all round and would lead to a more pluralistic party system

12:59 am, May 28, 2009

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

I agree with you on this Luke, and I think people on both your wing of the party and mine have been unnecessarily pig-headed on this issue. Campaigning for Labour in general elections shouldn't be about all piling up to Worcestershier to get 200 or so people to vote for us but about building support wherever we live.

It's really a no-brainer. The current system simply isn't sufficiently democratic. And not sustainable.

1:37 am, May 28, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...


You've come a long way from being caught by Bristol University's newspaper "Epigram" trying to rig a student election in favour of Labour. Well done.

A Park (student at Bristol in the early nineties and erstwhile Epigram reader).

10:54 am, June 03, 2009


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