Alan Johnson, Health secretary and wannabe Labour leader, favours proportional representation. As do other Labour MPs:
A source close to Johnson said the health secretary did not believe there was a need for a fresh review into the merits of PR because the case for it had already been made in a report by the former Labour minister and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Jenkins following his review set up by Tony Blair in 1997.
“Alan Johnson agrees with the Jenkins report,” said the source. “All the facts are there. You either agree with fair votes or you don’t. He supports proportional representation.”
He strongly denied that Johnson was pushing the case for PR out of any ambition to become leader. “It is the opposite of a leadership bid because this is an unpopular position in the Labour party.”
Jon Cruddas, the Dagenham MP who narrowly missed out on the deputy Labour leadership last year, said the crisis required “radical shock treatment”, adding: “The way to do that is to introduce proportional representation and a system of fair votes to replace the current arrangement under which a few thousand swing votes have an armlock around the body politic.”
Other cabinet ministers, including James Purnell – who is pushing for a swift review of party funding to clean up another area of concern to voters – Harriet Harman and Hilary Benn are also backing a debate on constitutional and electoral reforms. The move came as ministers said that a snap election could be called for October to refresh what is now widely seen as a discredited parliament if Gordon Brown was replaced in a summer coup, most likely by Johnson.
Maybe Labour will finally get round to giving us the referendum on PR that they promised in us 1997. I can’t help thinking they’re warming to PR because the opinion polls suggest they might do better with it than without it — in any case it’s good if they do the right thing, even if it is for the wrong reason.