July 29th, 2010
|01:26 pm - Why Labour should vote 'No'
So; the ongoing context of what is happening in British politics is, that the Tories temporarily need the Lib Dems to shore up their programme of dismantling public services. The Lib Dems are doing this in return for the promise of a referendum on vote reform*. The dilemma for the Tories is that if the Lib Dems achieve vote reform it will be much harder to hold the coalition together, and certainly to whip up a vote for further more unpopular measures in the future.
The Tories want the referendum to fail - this is not a secret. They have tied vote reform to a second proposal, which they are (as discussed yesterday) explicitly framing around Westminster as 'We will shaft the Labour party by fixing boundaries'. Why are they being so blatant about this cunning plan? Obviously, because a negative reaction is what they want. They want to sabotage the AV referendum, so they are tying it to something they are explicitly framing as a partisan land-grab. (ETA - this tying together is in the framing of the legislation to allow the referendum to happen).
It's as if the Tories tied vote reform to a granny-punching proposal or something. If the bill is on a joint proposal to bring in AV and cut the number of seats in poor areas, then Labour MPs will vote against it. Meanwhile many Tory MPs will oppose the AV bit of the yoked pair. The Tories know this and they consider it worth it to sabotage the Bill which they want to fail.
I honestly expected the Lib Dems to play more clever, to make it easier for people like me to give them qualified support.
ETA - in my first wording of this post I thought I would be given a say on both proposals, and added 'Perhaps they don't want my vote in the referendum, in which case, fine.' I should more accurately have said 'Perhaps they don't want Labour MPs support, and feel they can win without it, and we shall see.'
*of course this all leaves out the Lib Dems who love what the Tories are doing, don't need any persuasion and will probably join a reformed Tory party soon
My understanding is that the bill will change the size of the boundaries and cause the referendum. The referendum itself will be purely on AV - and the question has already been announced:
"Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the 'alternative vote' system instead of the current 'first past the post' system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?"
So the boundaries will be redrawn however we vote? In any case, it is being tied to the referendum in order to discredit it.
Right, it's in the House that it's linked
"Instead of introducing a separate bill on the alternative vote referendum which would have been supported by Labour in a vote through parliament, the government has spatchcocked it together with the most blatant gerrymander of parliamentary constituency boundaries since the days of the rotten boroughs."
So they are hoping to sabotage it at Bill level, even before it can get to referendum.
What I'd heard is that they were being tied together to get them past the Tory right-wing, who want the redistricting, but not the referendum.
Edit: Of course, I have no idea how true this is. The actual reasons will probably come out in about 10 years.
Edited at 2010-07-29 12:45 pm (UTC)
|July 29th, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
Which is a bit daft to my mind, as they'd vote for it in a separate Bill, whereas LAbour would back a separate AV bill. There's got to be some tactical reason to put it all into one Bill, we shall see.
yes I think there is a tactical reason
|July 29th, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC)
Correct, the boundary resizing will happen regardless of the result of the referendum. If the Bill passes, then the referendum happens.
but i think the bill is a free vote? which means the lib dems should have negotiated a non-partisan package
|July 29th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
Not a free vote, no, it's part of the coalition agreement.
I thought that the coalition agreement was that they would allow a free unwhipped vote on this Bill? But now I cast my mind back, I can't remember at all.
|July 29th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
Definitely not. Electoral reform would've beent he main sticking point; the membership was very cautious about working with the Tories, without a promise of a 3-line whip, it wouldn't have happened.
Yes, I remember now. It's once the Bill is passed the Tories are free to campaign against the referendum. This explains better why they are so keen to undermine the vote by 'other' means.
The other thing about this is that nobody really knows what the effect of AV would actually be. If anybody has a link to a realistic study or similar real-world example from another country that made the switch, I'd love to see it.
We do know that it is not proportional, and it can actually magnify the effect of landslides. In the 1997 election it would probably have given Blair an even bigger majority. In the 2010 election it would probably have levelled the playing field a bit and helped the Lib Dems. In combination with massive gerrymandering, god knows. The effects might be so dramatic as to make granny-punching look like pat-a-cake.
Yes, it really is interesting. I have heard that Eton these days has student elections for everything, very tied in with social success, so pupils learn a lot about these kind of tricks.
I think the idea that the boundary reforms/reduction in constituencies is a gerrymander of any sort is pure Labour spin and propaganda. Yes, it's not good for Labour - but that's because the current constituency system is massively biased in Labour's favour by having a large number of seats with less population in areas that traditionally vote Labour. If you think that's fair, fine, but you need to make the case for why you think certain areas should have smaller (by population) constituencies than others, and thus why certain people's votes should count for more than others.
See, for instance, Martin Kettle in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/28/labour-av-reform-gerrymander-nick-clegg
- this is about Labour trying to find an out to campaign against the AV system they supported a few months ago.
Yes, I know I had to make the case first - that was yesterday's post. I think Martin Kettle is, well let me say consistently and strongly partisan.