What Gordon Brown will say on electoral reform

The Prime Minister will today make an announcement on electoral reform. I’ve already said what I think he should say (that’s “should” as in to maximize political advantage to himself; I take it as read that politicians find it hard or impossible to differentiate between their own interests and those of the country on policy issues).

Now to deal with what he will say. Neil Harding is pessimistic:

this could end up being a disaster for the following reasons:-

1. Gordon Brown remains PM and is incredibly unpopular – anything he puts his name to is bound to be doomed by association.

Very likely.

2. If I have heard right – we are not even going to be offered a proportional system. The Alternative Vote, or even worse the Supplementary Vote, is not radical reform, it is a slight improvement but will do nothing for the 56% of people that voted neither Labour nor Tory.

AV is not a bad system, though as you say it isn’t proportional. I’ve heard SV described as “the worst voting system ever invented” and I think that’s a fair judgement.

4. Having a referendum on the Alternative Vote will put us true reformers in an impossible position – to campaign for a system that is slightly better but is not proportional, so will not address the main unfairness of the system. It will be a waste of our energy to get so little reward and probably make it all the more likely we will lose, because there will be so little to argue for.

If AV is offered, I’ll vote for it over FPTP. The problem is if that system is chosen, the electorate may decide “we’ve already changed the voting system once, we can’t do it again” and it’ll close off the opportunity for future change; but I don’t think that will happen.

5. Even if we win the referendum, knowing Gordon Brown, he will probably only make it indicative rather than binding and the incoming Tories will just ignore it.

Yes. The man is clearly incompetent enough to royally fuck this up.

If either Alan Johnson, John Denham or Jon Cruddas has resigned over this, they would have finished Brown and made their objective of getting a proportional system much easier. They decided they didn’t want to be the assasin and instead we end up with an electoral fudge that will get us nowhere and may waste the best opportunity for reform for a generation.

It’ll be their fault if we end up with 10 years of Tory rule. They’ve missed a golden opportunity to prevent the prospect of undemocratic Tory rule.

UPDATE: Start Wier also thinks Brown will mess it up:

Brown has put his great clunking feet in it again. If reports on theBBC are to be believed, Brown’s new National Council on Democratic Renewal – a body that may very well meet mostly in private – is to propose that the UK adopt the alternative vote (AV) for elections to Parliament. There is apparently to be a referendum.

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