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.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

AV: the Party shouldn't take sides

I'm a big supporter of AV - the Alternative Vote system as used in Australia.

To be more accurate I'm a supporter of proportional representation - which AV isn't - i.e. an electoral system where the share of seats you get directly relates to the share of vote. I'd prefer AV+ (single member AV seats with a "top-up" of list seats to make the overall share of seats equal to share of votes, basically the German system).

But I'll be voting for AV in the referendum next May because whilst it isn't proportional it is a significant improvement on the medieval First-Past-the-Post voting system we have now. It does increase voter choice (you rank candidates rather than voting with an "X"), there are fewer wasted votes that don't affect the outcome, and every MP has to get majority support in their seat rather than being able to get in on a small share if there is a 3 or 4-way split.

I've consistently backed electoral reform since I joined Labour in 1988. Indeed back in the day when I was in NOLS (Labour Students) it was the main issue I campaigned on inside the Party, perhaps a tad too obsessively if my memory of getting up at 6am to annoy Tom Watson (then a big FPTP man now I think an AVer) by putting Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform flyers on seats in some conference hall.

But I don't agree with calls like this - http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/11/labour-should-campaign-on-av/ -for Labour to allocate Party resources and campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum.

As with Europe in 1975 the dividing line on this issue cuts through Labour. There are good comrades of mine who are just as passionate about keeping FPTP as I am about abolishing it.

I could no more expect or force them to deliver Labour leaflets calling for a Yes vote than they could get me to deliver No ones.

The beauty of a referendum is that individual Labour people who care about the issue on either side can campaign they way they believe (though hopefully not getting too distracted from the vitally important Scottish, Welsh and local elections on the same day) without there having to be a knife fight about which side the Party's scarce resources are used to back.

I hope Ed Miliband campaigns for a Yes vote. I will be backing him. But I hope the Labour Party per se stays neutral and focuses on the other campaigns on 5th May.


Blogger johnpaul said...

Spot on Luke,again

9:24 am, November 09, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think about Phil Woolas, Luke?

Regrettably, I think that Ed Miliband showed poor judgement in re-apppointing him to the front bench given what was already in the public domain at the time.
Baroness Warsi has been quite happy to pick up that particular gift.

However, senior members of the Woolas' campaign team recommended the strategy that was adopted and I cannot see how the Labour Party can logically not suspend them as well.

9:33 am, November 09, 2010

Blogger johnpaul said...

All though woolas ,literature was dirty ,policitics is a dirty game,Ed Balls was one of the poepole brave enough tobing up immigtration and Fundamental terrorism at the leaderswhip campign knwoing it would'nt appeal to the chattering classes, Infact Diane abbott was criitical of him doing so, I cna't justify the depth woolas went to, Maybe Ed Miliband felt innocent till proven guilty, certainly woolas struck a fine line on the gurkhas and was prepared to listen, for all his faults he did do good there/.

11:55 am, November 09, 2010

Anonymous Ed said...

This blog is rather like Pravda in that bad news (Woolas) is simply ignored as if it never happened.

5:57 pm, November 09, 2010

Blogger dave said...

Hi Luke
While I can sort of see your point I think the issue is too important. AV really is better for the population - from what you say you agree with that. The conners are going to be peddling lies using millions of pounds of rich peoples money because they know what is best for them. If labour are going going to say they represent us normal folk then they need to get behind this as much as they can because AV is better for us. Getting a better deal for normal people is surely what the labour party stands for and the AV referendum is no different from every other policy which is better for us.

11:47 pm, November 09, 2010

Anonymous tim f said...

Dave - trouble is many of us in the Labour Party think AV is bad for working class representation & bad for the people we exist to represent.

Luke - I used one of my votes for you for the NEC but I wouldn't have done so without the assurance from a friend that you were against using party resources to help the yes to av campaign. Really glad to see you go public on it.

Let's focus on winning the elections. If individual members want to deliver leaflets for either campaign that's fine but they'd better make sure they deliver Labour election leaflets too, whichever side they're on.

1:28 pm, November 10, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong call Luke, they idea ios to defeat the Cons and thier chums. Voting down AV is one part of this.


7:03 pm, November 10, 2010

Blogger Merseymike said...

I won't be voting for AV. I don't think its an improvement on FPTP and it could end up a lot worse if one party becomes even slightly dominant

Also, and I make absolutely no apology in saying this - I won't vote for anything which might assist or benefit the FibDems.

9:39 am, November 11, 2010


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