I notice Politicalbetting is contemplating a Brown move to introduce Alternative Vote in place of first past the post. The announcement would be in the first days of the Brown administration and is akin to the announcement on Bank of England independence after his appointment as Chancellor.
I think this bit of political crystal ball gazing is well founded. I have argued myself that Brown will make such a move - indeed, in a meeting with my colleague George Crozier last week, I argued exactly the same point.
This time Brown will be even more earnest in his bid to break with the past. I suspect other possible moves as well, such as announcements on Lords reform.
No doubt STV fanatics and purist PR supporters will want us to hold out against the move to AV. Personally, I would back it. It would be easy to introduce and would not require a wholesale review of boundaries. And it would also easy any transition to STV with people understanding the need to put candidates in order of preference on the ballot paper.
But it would also introduce a new dynamic into elections. It would increase the number of seats that could change hands and it would also mean parties having to appeal beyond their own supporters and floating voters.
It would also mean that there was more incentive - much more - to get out to vote. Take for example my home town of Gateshead which, under the new boundaries will contain the constituencies of both Gateshead and Blaydon, as well as a bit of Jarrow. Predictions for Gateshead constituency are that Labour should expect to win with over half the votes cast, but on a low turnout. The Conservatives are in 3rd place and have no chance of winning. But their voters could turn out in larger numbers if they thought their 2nd preferences would actually come into play by ensuring Labour were on less than 50%. In other words, there is an incentive for them to turn out to vote even though their first choice stands no hope of winning.
This is even more so in Blaydon constituency. At the last election the Conservatives got only 8%, but we got 38% and Labour were on 51%. It used to be the case that the Conservatives got 10-14,000 votes in the constituency some 20 years ago. Some have shifted to us but many simply stay at home. A modest increase in the Conservative vote would mean the Conservatives' 2nd preferences would come into play.
Similar battles would be replicated over the North East. Labour marginal seats such as Newcastle North, Newcastle East and Durham City would be even more interesting.
And think of all those Conservative held seats that would be vulnerable to the Lib Dems where Labour are in 3rd place. Over the past century, the Conservatives have been the biggest beneficiary of first past the post. Many in the Labour party will be blinded to that by their own electoral success over the past decade, or by their stupidity or reactionary outlook. Under AV, there will be times when the swing in a general election will produce a more exaggerated result. But the long term benefits outweigh this.
So were Brown to introduce AV, I hope the purists in the Lib Dems look on it favourably.