Sunday, November 12, 2006
Brown Reforming Voting System Probably a Non- starter
I was intrigued by Jasper Gerard's suggestion today that Gordon Brown might make a dramatic move upon becoming prime minister to equal his granting independence to The Bank of England in 1997. How? By reforming the electoral system. I suggested on this blog many months ago that Blair might do the same in the short period left to him as a means of entrenching a Labour-Lib-Dem hegemony for decades to come. Now that would be a legacy worth leaving.
Gerard reports that Cameron seems to be very slow off the mark regarding pre-election feelers to Sir Ming's crowd- many of whom are more rightwards leaning these days, of course- in the event of a (likely) hung parliament in 2009. So the field is relatively open to Gordon suggests the Observer hack. Changing the system would require a referendum. Gerard says, however, that if the Lib Dems 'accepted a watered down version for now, retaining the link between MPs and their constituencies', then it could be passed off as 'tinkering and not constitutional change' and not require such problematic national consultation.
This last point seems very frail. What kind of 'watered-down' system does he envisage? OK, not STV but maybe the amended AMS of the Scottish and Welsh devolved assembly variety as suggested, in essence, by the late, revered Roy Jenkins in his ignored 1998 report? This scheme retains the constituency link but to introduce it nationwide would be vastly more than mere 'tinkering'. Moreover, would voters take yet another helping of Labour after Iraq and the cock-ups of Blair and co? And such a deal would need to be signalled well in advance to pre-empt any backlash and might not be deemed viable. No, Gordon would need to think this through very, very carefully. Despite Jasper's claim of 'half -decent' sources close to Brown, I suspect this highly political animal has already considered such an option and that he has no such idea- bold though it may seem- anywhere in mind.
My Labour councillor friends tell me the Lib Dems are reptiles with cloven hooves but the ones I know seem more than human to me. As for the Lib-Lab pact I don't think it achieved much either good or bad or did I miss something?
The Lib - Lab pact was followed by Thatcherism and the SDP, need I say more?
Both that (awful) phenomenon not to mention the SDP, surely, were the result of Labour's failures to govern successfully during the seventies?
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