This has been bugging me for two days now so I thought I had better blog about it!
Tom Harris, the Labour MP wrote a blog post on Sunday entitled "If it's a Labour policy, put it in the manifesto" where he bemoans the fact that the political agenda is currently dominated by talk of electoral reform. He thinks this is an issue that non-political people are not interested in and he suggests that it should be put in the manifesto for the next election instead of talking about it now.
In order to counter the obvious rejoinder to this he says:
And to stop all the inevitable whinging along the lines of “But we can’t believe you because you promised this in 1997 and it never happened, boo hoo, etc…” we could commit to holding it in on a specific date — say, the same day as the next local authority elections.
So he is basically saying that we should stop whining about their broken promise. In the comments further down he says that Labour fufilled 95% of its 1997 pledges (not sure where he gets this figure from) and describes the electoral reform referendum as one of a tiny number of pledges that "didn't come to pass". DIDN'T COME TO PASS? As if it was just one of those things rather than something that Tony Blair booted as hard as he could into the long grass once he realised he was going to be in under First Past the Post for 10 years or more.
In some of the comments later there are people saying things like "now is not the time" and "there are more important things" and "this is not linked to the expenses scandal". Well, I reckon:
1) It is NEVER the time for parties and people who have a massive partisan advantage with the existing system.
2) There is nothing more important in politics than re-enfranchising the millions of people whose votes currently count for nothing.
3) The rotten First Past the Post system gifts two-thirds of MPs effectively seats for life. It is not surprising that there is an apparent correlation between seat safety and the expenses scandal. Even putting that to one side, what this whole farago has demonstrated is how woefully out of touch our political classes are with the electorate. Electoral reform to a proportional system (Single Transferable Vote) would help to bridge this chasm and help restore faith in politics as MPs would have to be more responsive to their constituents. How's that for a link?