Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

Time for Labour to Rediscover Jenkins Report?

I see Clare Short is going to 'campaign' for a hung parliament: how do you do that? Campaign for people to vote in precisely the right amounts to produce this result? Not possible I would have thought. But the idea is a good one from one point of view. If the polls are right and the Conservatives become the largest party, then Labour's time in power is probably over. But there is a way to hang on to power that Gordon-assuming he's the new leader- might consider if the polls look dodgy.

Introduce proportional representation, as Lord Jenkins suggested way back in 1998(pictured with his fellow members of the Gang of Four)and do a deal with the Lib Dems to rule in coalition. As Labour would almost certainly be the biggest party, the top job plus most of the government portfolios would be theirs. If accused of cynical opportunism, Gordon could always explain that he has always supported this progressive reform and that it was Tony who vetoed it. Or he could just come clean and admit it was the only way left of staying on as PM after the election and he sure as hell wasn't going to pass it by.

Comments:
I agree, but will Clare be a help or a hindrance to the cause?
 
I don't think Brown or anyone else should adopt this merely as a tactic for clinging onto power. The Labour Party needs to embrace PR for the much more fundamental reason that it is more democratic. At very least it ensures that people's political allegiances are represented in parliament in proportion to the number who share their views. And yes - if that means some very small, cranky, or extreme parties manage to snatch a few seats - then they can't say their views are excluded. Catch my drift .. ?
 
The argument for PR is now compelling: in 2005 Labour won 55% of seats with just over 2 out of 10 electors voting for it (35% on a 61% turnout). But as I recall the Jenkins Commission recommended only a very weak form of PR (strictly a "mixed system"): the Alternative Vote-Plus (AV+) with a "top-up" of only 20% (For the Scottish Parliament it is about 43% and for the Welsh Assembly 40%). The Electoral Reform Society estimates that in 2005 this system would have produced a hung Parliament with Labour as the largest party. Labour would have had - on the ERS estimate - 307 seats (48%)on 35% of the vote. In 1979, 1983, 1987, 1997, and 2001 it would have produced single-party government. Not terribly proportional. STV is a far superior system.
 
The proposals of the Jenkins report were awful; not so much PR as Affirmative Action for minor parties within a FPTP system.
 
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