The constitutional crisis may help Labour

(This is an extended version of a comment I made on Liberal Conspiracy.)

A fortnight ago I wrote that Labour would be the biggest losers in the expenses scandal. A fortnight’s a long time in politics, and the expenses scandal has metamorphosed into an appreciation that the entire political system is seriously defective and needs to be reformed. A fortnight a go, I thought it was a sure thing Cameron would win the election. I don’t think it is now.

If Labour acts decisively (probably under a different leader than Brown, who’s about as decisive as a sack of suet) and writes up a list of constitutional reform proposals, then puts them to the people in a referendum (with each proposal being voted on separately, of course), they will appear to be responding decisively and appropriately to people’s concerns. This will improve Labour’s poll ratings.

Also, every voter who isn’t a Conservative supporter — about 60-70% of them — has an interest in avoiding a Conservative victory under FPTP, and will probably vote for PR. If PR wins in a referendum, Labour will even be able to truthfully say they are implementing it because it’s the will of the people not because it’s in their interest. And there will be nothing that Cameron can do about it — he can hardly slag off the expressed will of the people — so he will have to sit impotently while the prime ministership slips from his hands.

So the constitutional crisis prompted by the expenses scandal may well lead to a Labour minority government, elected by PR, probably with Johnson or Miliband as leader. I bet the Telegraph didn’t expect that when they started publishing MPs’ expenses.

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