Alex Smith has an interview with David Miliband up on LabourList at the moment. He asks some good questions (particularly one about the banana which seems to annoy him!) but his response towards the end about the AV referendum is frankly bizarre:
"...we’ve got to be a party that sees democracy as our ally, both internally and in the country at large. The Tories are going to give political reform a bad name with this AV referendum. As it happens, I support AV, but that’s beside the point. They’re going to give it a bad name because people will say: ‘there’s all this arguing, but how much do things really change?’ We need to sort out parliament, I’ve always said that – but that means the Commons and the Lords together."
I don't understand in what way allowing a referendum on something that Miliband himself seems to support can give reform a bad name. I fully agree that we need to sort out the Lords too but that is on the coalition's to do list as well. From page 27 of the coalition agreement:
"We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers."
The answer to Mr Miliband's question about "How much things really change" will be answered when people vote in the referendum next year. I very much hope he throws his weight behind a "yes" vote. The Tories always opposed any change and are bound to largely campaign against it but the Lib Dems have managed to get them to agree to have a referendum.
And the coalition is doing exactly what he suggests. I really don't understand what his problem is. It is almost as if whilst fundamentally agreeing with the government on something he feels duty bound to find some way, however specious in which to criticise it.
I was hopeful that whoever won the Labour leadership contest we would see an end to this opposition for opposition's sake. These comments do not bode well for that should Mili_D win in September.