Brown’s passion and our problem…
Apparently Gordon Brown is ‘passionately’ in favour of electoral reform well at least to the point of supporting AV+. Quite rightly people will wonder if he has been so passionate why it will be deferred until after an election and why it has taken so long to make any progress on this issue. If you were being cynical you might think that Brown, knowing the best he can hope for is a hung-parliament, has designed the commitment as a honey coated trap to ensnare us. Given the above a little cynicism is allowed I think and more than justified.
It does put us in a potentially hard position; despite the valiant stand of Douglas Carswell we know well enough that the Conservatives and a David Cameron government offers no hope of electoral reform of any kind. Cameron doesn’t want it and there certainly will not be a massive clamour for it from either the massed-ranks of starry-eyed new potential Conservative MP’s nor their grass roots. So, like it or lump it, that leaves Brown and Labour the only hope of achieving any change to the electoral system what so ever and us as the potential guarantors of change.
Purists will say ‘well it isn’t STV’ so the answer must be no; however, they would be wrong because although I am biased by the fact that I prefer AV+ to STV in any case I still feel that some change is better than no change at all. Ideally, people would be given a choice (and we would have to insist on that) but I still think that in a straight choice AV+ would actually prevail over STV (it has done before, in New Zealand) primarily because the ‘constituency link’ is ingrained in our political culture. It would also be wrong from us being in a position to at least insist that a referendum considers all options purely because we didn’t want to do a deal with Labour.
It would of course depend on how things stacked-up following the next election but my feeling is that the chance to change the electoral system would a historic one; too good to pass-up if the opportunity arose and one that Cameron’s Conservative’s would not realise. So, Brown has put us in something of an awkward position….