Friday, August 06, 2010

The dinosaurs unite against reform

I need to do some catch up as I haven't blogged for a week. I've been involved with lots of mainly non-political activity recently which has taken up quite some time. Anyway, I did notice over the weekend that the GMB union is to bankroll the campaign of reaction against the yes vote in next year's voting reform referendum. I have to say I am not surprised. The GMB has always struck me as something of a dinosaur and it is equally of no surprise that they have teamed up with the Tory right to oppose reform. As I predicted in a blog post a few weeks ago, there will be some strange coalitions forming. Many elements of the Labour movement appear to have no difficulty forming a coalition with the Tory right that has been excluded from power by the creation of the Lib Dem Conservative Coalition.

That leads me on to a message I received from a leading Labour member in the North East in which this person gloated over the prospect of the No vote winning next year. The same person also accused me and the Lib Dems of "betraying communities" in region. It is interesting that these two points were made in the same message. Didn't Labour fight the election on a commitment to the alternative vote, subject to a referendum? We are now putting that into action and this Labour member gloats at the prospect of a Labour policy being defeated. Yet what does this Labour member say to the people who voted Labour because they called for constitutional reform and especially the introduction of AV? Surely they will be feeling betrayed by Labour?

Not all elements of the Labour party are reactionary and hostile to reform. Whichever Miliband wins the leadership will, at least from recent statements, back reform. The general approach of Labour however to voting reform was governed by the need to appear favourable to reform before the election was held. The old system had become indefensible. Labour probably did not go through a genuine reappraisal of the need for reform under Brown. He was looking instead to cling on to power by any means. Quite where Labour wants to go now that Brown has gone is not clear. Assuming Miliband (D or E) wins the leadership, we may get a better picture. Whether either can carry the rest of their party with them is yet to be seen.
Sent via BlackBerry

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