>The AV red herring

>The Labour Shadow Cabinet has decided to vote against the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which will trigger the referendum on changing the electoral system to the Alternative Vote. Their supposed objection is that this Bill also includes provisions for equalising constituency sizes, which they argue favours the Conservative Party, and  the exemption of some sparsely populated rural seats in the Scottish Highlands, which they say gives the Lib Dems an advantage. The argument that they are opposing such necessary reforms on the basis of a few abnormally populated rural seats* is surely one of the weakest that we have heard from the opposition benches.

I will not spend time highlighting the massive advantage the current system gives the Labour Party over both its major rivals, but it does.

In an article on the Left Foot Forward blog some other arguments are highlighted, such as that a smaller House of Commons will not help with gender balance. That will not be a major issue if a fairer voting system is introduced as everyone knows that more female (and BME) candidates get elected under such systems.

Supporting AV was in Labour’s manifesto, so this really is beginning to look like pure opportunism, hypocrisy, and opposition for the sake of it. The truth though is that this Bill is a red herring. It is the first real issue on which the Coalition partners have completely opposing views, and Labour have just picked it up to try and split the Government. They can say that they support AV but not boundary changes and scupper the Bill, knowing the pressure that not having a referendum would put on the Liberal Democrat leadership. 

All this posturing is  doing is highlighting the fact that the Labour Party are behaving like affronted spoilt children in opposition, with no understanding that it was this arrogant, tribal attitude that landed them there in the first place. While VN imagines that the referendum will go ahead, the Labour Leadership should not be allowed to play politics with something as fundamental as our democracy.

*To be clear, ‘abnormally populated means populated in a way uncommon to most of the United Kingdom. VN would not dream of calling the people of the Scottish Highlands abnormal – VN Scottish Affairs Editor


One Comment to “>The AV red herring”

  1. >can you please explain their issue about young people in urban areas who will, as a result, be unable to register – what does that mean? i am utterly bemused!

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