Wednesday, July 28, 2010
First Major Faultline Appears in Coalition
Personally I'm strongly in favour of voting reform and would like to see Labour support AV; it's not the ideal as it's not a PR system, but it's a start. Many Labour MPs have expressed support for voting reform- even one Gordon Brown a few months ago, you might recall- but some are still lost in the toils of Old Labour, trade unionist style thinking and do not want to surrender a system whose distortions so favour their side.
Today we learn that Labour is likely to oppose AV in next May's referendum. The main reason cited is that the Tories are trying to manipulate constituency boundaries in their own interests and have abolished independent public inquiries into such changes, rendering the process a virtual 'gerrymander'. Jack Straw seems to have led the move to oppose the AV proposal as these changes will arrive on its coat-tails.
Should this come to pass we can predict the coalition has less than a year left to live. With 45 rightwing Tory MPs led by Bernard Jenkin(pictured) stoutly opposing the measure, voting refom will not get through. The Lib Dems regard voting reform as the ark of the covenant of the coalition agreement and their only major 'pay-off' for putting their party in such dire risk of destruction. If it fails there would be little point in continuing. So this unholy alliance between Labour and the Tory right could well scupper the 'Brokeback Coalition' before much more than a year has passed. However, I foresee a year of frantic political activity before the referendum, with Cameron, whipped on by a nervous Clegg, desperately seeking to discipline his rightwing colleagues. Fascinating stuff for political obsessives...