Is supporting AV in Labour’s interest?
Sunny Hundal thinks it is however, nobody will be surprised to learn I disagree. It is worth mentioning as an aside that even if it was the case that it was tactically wise for Labour to support a Yes Vote in the AV Referendum that alone would not be sufficient reason to support it. However, let’s take Sunny’s arguments one-by-one:
1) If the Labour hierarchy actively campaigns for AV it will attract support from Libdem voters, who will be repelled by loud Tory voices that want to keep the status quo. I keep having to stress this: Labour’s primary opposition is the Conservative party not the Libdems. Getting those Libdem voters on side is key if the Labour party is to win an election again
Of course in many areas this is patently not true and is especially untrue given that the referendum date will fall at the same time as Labour Party members and activists will be waging bitter struggles against the Lib Dems in local elections as well as those in the devolved Assemblies. I think it’s rather naive to assert that supporting the Lib Dems on electoral reform is the way back to win back those voters Labour lost to the Lib Dems. Labour lost these votes on a multitude of issues (principally Iraq) none of which are remotely connected to the issue of electoral reform. Given the fact that the Lib Dems have deserted the progressive hinterland for pastures of ministerial promise and in turn have clobbered the poor with scathing cuts and the regressive VAT rise, in many cases actually egging the Conservatives on to go further, how we are supposed to consider them friends or allies is beyond me. Sunny, I feel, still dreams of a Lab/Lib lash-up which vanished as a prospect from the political landscape a very long time ago; about the time they allowed David Cameron to cross the threshold of Number 10 actually.
He obviously still feels the Lib Dems are doing their best to soften-up the Conservatives. Newsflash. They actually believe in these policies as Steve Richards puts it:
Clegg is known to have told friends after George Osborne’s Budget: “The good news is I’m not a patsy. The bad news is I believe in the Budget.
That belief means Clegg should be treated no different to a Conservative and nor should the Party he leads and that witlessly cheers him on. Sunny’s second reason; that the Liberal Democrats identify with Labour more than the Conservatives (and 1 would therefore drive a wedge between them and their party) has been effectively demolished by recent polling which shows the second preferences of Lib Dem voters more evenly split. His third point; that constant oppositional behaviour makes Labour look unprincipled shows why we should not be governed about how things look. Nothing obliges a defeated Party at a General Election to help implement its losing manifesto. The committment made by the leadership candidates is a personal one that does not commit the entire Party and it is one they should be personally free to maintain though it would be wrong of them to commit the entire Party to that ‘line’ so no ‘U-Turn’ is necessary on their part.
As I have said before; the ‘AV Cost Equation’ shows us that the price is too high for what we are receiving. Sunny argues from a romanticised perspective; Labour will pay the electoral price if it hooks itself to the Clegg wagon this time around not the other way around. Carrying a candle for Lib/Labbery, a future that died months ago if not a long time before in reality, will not light the way forward….