Regular readers of this blog will be unsurprised to learn that as far as I am concerned, a referendum on electoral reform to a more proportional system is a red line for me in any coalition negotiations now we are in a balanced parliament situation. The fact that we increased our vote share by 1% to 23% yesterday but our number of seats fell by nearly 10% just underlines (yet again) how broken our electoral system is.
The Labour Party are already offering such a referendum. However there are a number of problems in considering joining with them. For example, whilst Brown is still leader I would not countenance any deal with Labour whatsoever and I know many Lib Dems feel the same. Also, Lib Dem and Labour combined will not quite have enough seats to form a majority government.
None of the problems with that though are insurmountable in my view and if a deal cannot be reached with David Cameron then I think it would be a valid option to pursue with Labour however I think Nick Clegg is right to say that Cameron has the first shot at trying to agree a deal.
I know that many Conservatives are opposed to electoral reform to a proportional system (with the odd exception such as Douglas Carswell). However I think that rather than the messy idea Cameron has come up with thus far of yet another committee to look into it (i.e. kick it into the long grass) he needs to do much better. He needs to offer a referendum.
I would not expect the Conservative Party to campaign for a yes vote. Indeed I would expect them to do the exact opposite. But the public should be given the chance to decide. Their attention has been starkly drawn to what I think are the deficiencies of the existing system during this election campaign. The Conservatives think that despite these, FPTP is the best system. They have a number of arguments that they think back this up. I don't agree with them but it is fair enough for them to think this. They need to have the courage of their convictions and to be willing to argue their case in front of the electorate. Who knows, maybe they will be able to convince the public that they are correct and we should stick with the status quo.
If Cameron cannot or will not offer this then there is another party who despite the difficulties mentioned above is offering it. Hopefully this will focus Mr Cameron's mind.
On many other policies I am more willing to compromise and from what I have seen of Cameron's suggestions I think there is ample scope for agreement. PR is a red line for me though.
So that's what I think. If you are a Lib Dem member, the Federal Executive of the party wants to know your views too. Have a look at this post on Lib Dem Voice for details of how to make sure your view is represented to them. You need to do it before they meet at 2pm tomorrow.
Rest assured I will be sending them my thoughts imminently.
UPDATE: When I posted this yesterday I was very tired not having slept for more than 36 hours and I realise now I did not mention a specific PR system. To be clear, I favour Single Transferable Vote with multi-member constituencies.