Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cameron faces revolt on electoral reform.

The Conservative Party revolt over AV has begun in earnest.

Tory MPs plan to make it harder to secure a "yes" vote in any referendum on the alternative vote (AV). The wrecking tactics will anger the Liberal Democrats, because the promise of a chance to change the system was a crucial factor in the agreement to join the coalition.

Daniel Kawczynski, chairman of the all-party group for the current first-past-the-post system, said he would table an amendment to the Bill paving the way for a referendum saying that 40 per cent of the electorate would need to support change in the public vote before it could be implemented. That would need a high turnout. A similar amendment scuppered plans for Scottish devolution in a 1979 referendum. The plan was supported by 52 per cent of those voting but that amounted to only 33 per cent of the electorate.
This was to be expected. Indeed, I am not even sure that David Cameron will be disappointed that his backbenchers are behaving in this way.

He doesn't want AV any more than they do.

But he promised a vote on it as part of this shoddy deal to get the Liberal Democrats on board. Now the Tories will do everything they can to make sure that this vote fails.
Mr Kawczynski, the Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said: "If we are to hold a referendum on AV, it is only fair that any changes are implemented if they hold the support of a clear majority of the electorate. Fundamental constitutional change should not be enacted by process of a knee-jerk reaction. It is all-too easy for voters to pledge support for change to the electoral system; understanding the implications of this change is, however, something different. But the implications of AV could not be clearer: a more disproportional system; legislative gridlock; impersonal politics."
We are told that Tory whips will try to crush this rebellion as it puts the coalition "under strain", but that strikes me as window dressing. The Tories don't want AV. They never have and they never will.

Let's not kid ourselves that Cameron is disappointed that his backbenchers are keen to outlaw something which he doesn't support.

And Nick Clegg would be a fool if any of this surprises him. He got into bed with a party who do not share his aims. They, ultimately, do not want what he wants. So, it should be no surprise that they are behaving in this way.

Click here for full article.

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