Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Where will Labour's dinosaurs be in the voting reform debate?
The move by Labour to legislate for a referendum on electoral reform will throw some interesting light on the position of the dinosaur "socialist" brethren in Labour's ranks who share the Tory horror at changes to the voting system.
In strong Labour areas, such as the North East (admittedly Labour are not as strong as they used to be), the tendency amongst Labour members is to support the existing first past the post system as it has given them a local dominance they find comfortable and enjoyable. Though the existing voting system has given Labour a temporary benefit by giving them a considerable majority in the Commons, completely out of proportion to their share of the vote, first past the post has historically benefitted the Conservatives. I am not arguing that the Conservatives are on the verge of election victory (they aren't and recent polls suggest the trend is making a Tory majority less likely) but the system left to run unreformed will eventually produce a majority Conservative government which is likely to last some considerable time. Just look at the political history of the 20th century to see that in practice.
Despite the current system historically favouring the Tories, the Labour dinosaurs continue to support it. So the move to Alternative Vote, itself just a modest step, is going to press the Labour reactionaries into something of a problem: do they support the line taken by their party, do they shut up, or do they jump into bed with the Tories and run a joint campaign to keep the old (Tory favouring) system in place.
Perhaps some of you local diehard "socialist" Labour reactionaries who so regularly read my blog may wish to use this opportunity to enlighten us as to your view: are you reformer or reactionary?