Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Expect a referendum on AV+ at the next election

Having listened to what Gordon Brown had to say today during PMQs and then later during his statement, I am now coming to the view that what will happen is a referendum on Alternative Vote Plus to coincide with the next General Election.

My evidence is as follows m'lud:

1) During PMQs, Gordon Brown said this:
What I say about electoral reform, however, is that I have never myself supported the policy of proportional representation for a Westminster Parliament; that has always been my view. The right hon. Gentleman has to accept that the policy of proportional representation exists for the European elections, and I do not see a proposal from his party to change it at the moment. He has to accept also that the Jenkins proposals for the additional vote plus PR laid down criteria by which it would be impossible for the British National party to hold a seat—even under the PR system—in the British Parliament, unless it won a constituency seat.
Now I know that he says he does not support a proportional system at the start of his answer, but AV+ is not proportional. Not fully anyway so by careful semantics Brown could get around this. He also goes out of his way to talk up AV+ as a system that shoots down in flames, Cameron's BNP point. Why would he do this if he wasn't trying to convince us of its merits?

2) When repeatedly asked is he was going to have a referendum on this before the General Election he repeatedly said there were "no plans" for this. Of course that could easily mean that he will do it and there is absolutely nothing to stop him having it to coincide with the next General Election.

3) Alan Johnson is now Home Secretary and after the failed coup last week, one of the most powerful people in the government and heir apparent. He has said on the record that he wants an AV+ referendum to coincide with the next General Election. He may well succeed Gordon Brown in the Autumn and if the measures announced today already have momentum, turning it into a referendum will be all the easier for a new PM with probably a bit of a honeymoon period that he can exploit.

4) Brown will feel that he has to be seen to be doing something and his calculating brain will be telling him that this measure will "stuff the Tories". I don't agree that it will at all and a proportional system will be better for everybody (once we all get used to it) but that won't be how Brown will see it, he will be looking at this like he does with everything from a partisan perspective.

So, that's what I reckon will happen. Of course my track record in predictions doesn't appear to have been great of late but I think I might just be on the money here...

UPDATE: I should probably just clarify that this is what I reckon will happen, not what I think should. I want Single Transferable Vote which is the proportional system that I think is by far the best one.


Anonymous said...

Why AV+? I've only seen speach about AV (without plus). Why would Gordon follow the recommendation of the Jenkins Commission, when he can opt for a system more favourable for Labour?

Voter said...

Multi consistuency STV (Lib Dem policy) is not a proportional system.

A proportional system would be one where the influence in Parliament matches the vote share

neil harding said...

Mark, I really hope you are right about Brown and AV+. I still think the PM will offer crappy AV or worse SV they use in London, or nothing at all. In which case, our only chance is if Brown goes in the Autumn. I suspect Brown has come under intense pressure from Johnson n Denham, Cruddas n Bradshaw. They are still a minority but AV+ might be wearable for a lot of Labour MPs facing decimation in a GE. Ome thing is for sure, reform will be shelved if the Tories get in.

neil harding said...

On STV, we need 5 member seats to give minority parties a chance, and yes this may mean the BNP as well. We need to get away from the BNP are helped by PR argument. The real probkem is the BNP getting a million votes. You don't make them go away by gerrymanderuinh them under the carpet along with millions of UKIP and Green voters. Does anyone think a system that would have gave UKIP no MEPs is fair? But that is the system we have to elect our MPs.