Good luck to John Denham

I’ve only heard John Denham speak in person once, but the time I did (earlier this month) it was immediately clear why he’s so often been rated by others as one of the better and more thoughtful Labour MPs.

So it’s good to see that he has become the new chair of Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform saying,

An AV referendum is on the agenda because of the work Labour electoral reformers have done. We have to make sure the Labour Party maintains its commitment to the AV referendum and to success in the referendum if and when it comes.

I much prefer STV to AV, but AV is the only realistic show in town at the moment and would be better than first past the post. Labour’s backing for AV could be crucial to winning the referendum – and losing the referendum will put back electoral reform for the Commons for years.

So it’s good to see one prominent Labour MPs at least willing to stick to his guns on electoral reform, especially given how some in Labour have been only too happy to dump their manifesto commitments in this area. Most notable were those Labour MPs parading through the media in the immediate aftermath of the election but there have also been numerous Labour members who never quibbled over fixed-term Parliaments being in their own party’s manifesto but have now neatly flip-flopped and express their outrage at the very thought of them.

There looks to be a real battle ahead in Labour over whether it is a party that believes in political reform or whether it retreats to its old ways and simply opposed whatever the government proposes.

Good luck then to John Denham – and I’m sure he’ll have fun pointing out to some of his colleagues who 0ppose AV that Labour uses AV for its own leadership election…

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  • Stuart Mitchell 23rd May '10 - 4:21pm

    “…there have also been numerous Labour members who never quibbled over fixed-term Parliaments being in their own party’s manifesto but have now neatly flip-flopped and express their outrage at the very thought of them.”

    Likewise, there are plenty of Lib Dems and Tories who are in favour of fixed term parliaments now but didn’t seem quite so keen during the three years they spent castigating Gordon Brown for not calling an election in 2007 and ruling as an “unelected” prime minister!

    In fact, just four weeks ago David Cameron was saying that any new “unelected” prime minister ought to be forced to call an election within six months. This makes a total mockery of the government’s declared reasons for wanting the appalling “55% rule” brought in. In fact, when you read Cameron’s speech of the 24th April it is difficult to reach any conclusion other than that the Lib Dems have been totally deceived by the Tories. It’s nothing to do with enabling “fixed” parliaments, and everything to do with keeping our new unelected prime minister in office for the duration.

  • … and following the death of Robin Cook the only senior Labour figure to have opposed the invasion of Iraq – why is he not standing in the leadership election himself?

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