by Stephen Tall on May 29, 2009
2 Big Stories
Moves towards voting reform gain momentum
As the MPs’ expenses row rumbles on – today’s Telegraph villain is that arch-Eurosceptic Bill Cash – the recognition of the need for electoral reform is gathering pace. After yesterday’s clarion call by Nick Clegg for MPs to embark on a 100-day programme to rescue British democracy, today Labour stalwarts David Blunkett and Peter Hain have added their voices to those clamouring to ditch the archaic first-past-the-post voting system. Neither though subscribe to the Lib Dems’ stated single transferable vote preference, nor even for the Jenkins Commission’s AV+ recommendation – instead they line up behind a straight switch to the alternative vote within existing constituencies, an option which could see even greater extreme skewing of the make-up of the House of Commons away from the national popular vote.
52 Labour MPs apply to sit in House of Lords
Can you hear that sound? It’s the sound of power ebbing away from Gordon Brown and the Labour party. As the Guardian reports, ‘Gordon Brown is facing an escalating crisis of confidence inside the parliamentary Labour party as record numbers of his MPs apply to sit in the House of Lords after the next general election. … the Guardian has learned that at least 52 MPs have formally approached Downing Street to be given places in the upper house.’ Which sounds like as good a reason as any to be thinking about replacing the Lords with an elected senate.
2 must-read blog-posts
Nick’s two big Parliamentary victories [the Gurkhas and the resignation of the Speaker] show the dilemma that a radical reformer faces. Do you build a practical consensus between parties to get things done, as Nick did over the Gurkhas? Or should you be a radical anti-establishment voice, as Nick was in breaking all convention to bring down a rotten Speaker?
Nick needs to be both, yet building an anti-establishment consensus that the establishment might deliver is a paradox. That’s what’s the extraordinary gamble in his front-page Guardian article today – punching for a target somewhere short of what we’d do on our own, but well ahead of what either Labour or the Tories would do on their own, all based on issues that have some degree of cross-party agreement already. As Millennium says, politics is the art of the possible.
But what could be more appropriate for a Liberal Democrat Leader than punching a hole in the establishment at the moment when it’s most fractured, but in a reasonable and measured way?
Summertime – and reforming is easy (Caron’s Musings)
There’s no way on earth that any of this [Nick’s 100-day programme] goes as far as Lib Dems want. There’s so much more that needs to be done, but politics, as they say, is the art of the possible – and this lot really is possible if all parties get their backsides in gear and show willing. What are the chances? We’ll wait and see but if Labour and the Tories refuse the opportunity to take action to clean up politics, then they will have to justify themselves to the electorate when they finally do have their say.