Since I posted this yesterday I have been further deliberating on the merits of just focusing on debating the principle of proportional representation as opposed to specifically pushing for Single Transferable Vote (STV).
There have been others posting about this subject and I had a lively debate with Jennie Rigg on her blog yesterday too. I seem to be in a minority in what I suggested yesterday and most Lib Dem bloggers seem to think that it is vitally important to push for STV. As I mentioned previously my problem is that I have a lot of trouble trying to get my non-politically minded friends to even listen to me about this, let alone properly engage with what I am saying. I distinctly recall spending 10 minutes a couple of years ago explaining the First Past the Post system, its advantages and drawbacks, and why I thought STV was better. The person concerned is University educated and very intelligent but a few months later she asked me "What was that about again?". She couldn't remember what I had said. I think the problem is that some of the arguments are fairly arcane to all but the politically obsessed.
However the more I have been thinking about it, the more I am persuaded that specifically arguing for STV is the way forward. I have come across too many examples in comments on blogs, twitter and in the MSM making criticisms of "PR" that just do not apply to STV (mainly it puts all the power in the hands of the parties whereas STV does the exact opposite). In some cases I suspect people who have a partisan stake in the existing system are deliberately obfuscating the issue (as David Cameron did in yesterday's Guardian) but I am sure there are many who just do not know what STV is and genuinely think that all PR systems require party lists.
So I am coming on board the STV train. That doesn't mean that I will not still be behind Alan Johnson's calls for a referendum but whenever I mention it I will point out that the PR system I favour is STV. The Referendum 2010 campaign is also calling for one but they are remaining generic for now.
The debate is only just starting and we need to be ready to rebut all the canards and nonsense that will be thrown at us. It is clear to me now that all Cameron was doing yesterday was trying to hijack the reform debate so he can neutralise the threats to his personal and parties ambitions. That's fair enough as it is his job but we should go for him now and should not allow him to paint himself as the change needed. He isn't. Lib Dems are the true reforming progressives and people need to understand that if they really want to change the political system in this country, the quickest way to achieve it is to back us.