Do they actually need a referendum to introduce PR?

Not being familiar with the relevant law, I’ve not been able to find a definitive answer. However, I did find this:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-05142.pdf

In 2005 the Labour Party manifesto stated that the party remained ‘committed to reviewing the experience of the new electoral systems’ and repeated the 2001 statement that a referendum remained the ‘right way to agree any change for Westminster’.

The implication here is that while a referendum may have once been the right way, it wasn’t and still isn’t the only way that a change to the electoral system could be effected.

This leads us to a nightmare scenario – albeit a remote one. But we are in uncharted waters, with some of the most calculating and devious bastards in history squabbling for the helm of the vessel.

Others have written that a Lib/Lab coalition with Brown, or A N Other unelected leader, would so enrage the electorate that they could never win a referendum on voting reform and would thereafter be savaged at the next general election.

So, suppose the Lib Dems went into a coalition with Labour, Postman Pat installed at the helm.

They all want PR. Once they have it, their ‘progressive consensus’ will be de-facto obtained.

If they don’t need a referendum, why on earth would they hold one? Remember the Lisbon treaty?

Am I missing something here?

AJ

UPDATE:

I’ve not considered the House of Lords, but I do know about Labour’s use of the Parliament act.

Which leave the Queen. Could she actually do anything?

Q: Is support for the BNP growing? A: No, not really.

The FT Westminster blog wields the spectre of BNP MPs, should PR be adopted. As I wrote previously, so be it.

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As it goes, not I hadn’t.

Twittist @ACloakedFigure posed the question:

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It’s not entirely clear why said Twittist thought I’d know the answer, but I do have Google.

Year

Candidates

Total Votes

Votes/Candidate

2001

33

47129

1428

2005

119

192850

1621

2010

338

564321

1670

Hardly a groundswell, is it?

AJ

Sources: 2010, 2005, 2001

UKIP did NOT cost the Tories victory.

Conservative Home ask a question:

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On the face if it, the implication is a valid one. These are seats where the number of UKIP votes is greater than the margin by which a conservative candidate was defeated. The table is from the above Con-Home piece, but updated* by me (red lines) to show one of the flaws in their premise.:

  • Bolton West: Labour 18,329; Conservative 18,235; UKIP 1,901; GREEN 545 
  • Derby North: Labour 14,896; Conservative 14,283; UKIP 829; BNP 2,000
  • Derbyshire NE: Labour 17,948: Conservative 15,503; UKIP 2,636
  • Dorset mid & Poole: Labour 21,100; Conservative 20,831; UKIP 2,109
  • Dudley North: Labour 14,923; Conservative 14,274; UKIP 3,267; BNP 1,899
  • Great Grimsby: Labour 10,777: Conservative 10,063: UKIP 2,043; BNP 1,517
  • Hampstead & Kilburn: Labour 17,332; Conservative 17,290; UKIP 408; GREEN 759;  BNP 328
  • Middlesbrough South: Labour 18,138; Conservative 16,461; UKIP 1,881; BNP 1,576; IND 818
  • Morley (Ed Balls): Labour 18,365; Conservatives 17,264; UKIP 1,506; BNP 3,535
  • Newcastle-Under-Lyme: Labour 16,393; Conservatives 14,841; UKIP 3,491
  • Plymouth Moor View: Labour 15,433; Conservatives 13,845; UKIP 3,188; BNP 1,438 
  • Solihull: Liberal 23,635; Conservatives 23,460; UKIP 1,200; BNP 1,624 
  • Somerton & Frome: Liberal 28,793; Conservatives 26,976; UKIP 1,932
  • Southampton Itchen: Labour 16,326; Conservatives 16,134; UKIP 1,928; GREEN 600
  • St Austell & Newquay: Liberal 20,189; Conservatives 18,877; UKIP 1,757; MEB KER 2,007; BNP 1,022
  • St Ives: Liberal 19,619; Conservatives 17,900; UKIP 2,560; GREEN 1,308; CORNWALL PARTIES 783
  • Telford: Labour 15,977; Conservatives 14,996; UKIP 2,428; BNP 1513
  • Walsall North: Labour 13,385; Conservatives 12,395; UKIP 1,737; BNP 2,930 
  • Walsall South: Labour 16,211; Conservatives 14,456; UKIP 3,449
  • Wells: Liberal 24,560; Conservatives 23,760; UKIP 1,711; BNP 1,004 
  • Wirral South: Labour 16,276; Conservatives 15,745; UKIP 1,274
  • What you’ll notice on the red lines is that other parties also peeled off votes that could make or break one of the dominant candidates. Frequently, the BNP won more votes than UKIP. If it’s fair to assume that UKIP voters are disaffected Tories, then it’s also fair to assume that BNP voters are disaffected working class socialists i.e. former Labour core voters. Greens could be disaffected Lab or Lib voters.

    So UKIP no more ‘cost’ the Tories a majority than the BNP and Greens cost Labour a majority. Which brings me to my second point, and the second reason that UKIP did not steal the Tories’ victory.

    People voted UKIP rather than Tory (as I did) because Cameron let us down over the Lisbon referendum and under him, the party has a pro-EU outlook. If the Tories had offered something of value to an increasingly Eurosceptic public, they could have won a comfortable majority.

    Likewise, if Labour hadn’t been so arrogant and cack-handed over immigration for the last 13 years, they wouldn’t have haemorrhaged votes to the BNP.

    To sum up then: It’s complete and utter cobblers.

    AJ

    * If you’re interested in playing with the numbers, they’re here on the Guardian’s Datablog.

    Solve the electoral crisis: Cut Scotland loose.

    It’s a theme I’ve enthused about before. You may even have noticed the link in my sidebar to the campaign for Scottish independence.

    Minette Marrin, a columnist with whom I find myself in frequent and violent agreement, raises a point very salient to our current electoral dilemma.

    Cameron got 306 seats (against Brown’s 258), just 20 seats short of an overall majority. But Brown’s 258 included 41 from Scotland (out of 59 Scottish constituencies). Without these Scottish seats, the Labour party would have got only 217 to the Conservatives’ 305 and Clegg’s 46 (to which he would be reduced if he did not have his current 11 Lib Dem seats in Scotland).

    It would be interesting to see the latest on these figures, too:

    At the end of 2006 a famous ICM poll found that 52% of Scots wanted independence from Britain, but also — startlingly — that 59% of the English favoured separation from Scotland. As far as I know there have been no polls about this thorny issue since.

    Someone on Twitter (I forget who, forgive me) came up with a superb idea – referenda on PR, Scottish Independence and EU membership, all on the same day – and that was before we learned of the latest attempt to prop up the Euro with OUR money.

    Such a clutch of referenda would be sheer, unmitigated joy.

    AJ

    UPDATE: Via @RantinRab hark at how well Labour did in Scotland.

    image

    Hung Parliament Update – Warming to PR, even if the BNP get seats

    All told, it looks unlikely that a deal will be sealed by the time markets open on Monday. This will make Monday a very volatile day.

    Charlotte Gore points out the hurdles and gates Nick Clegg must negotiate within his own party. On Radio 1 news today they called Clegg ‘the most powerful man in Britain’. He isn’t. He is in a Gordian knot.

    Meanwhile, Cameron has his own internal struggle to manage. Backdrop is a (fair) assumption that PR spells the end of the party. A complete upheaval of the UK’s political landscape, with it. In the foreground, though, are complaints about Cameron’s leadership style – decisions are being taken by a small clique. Heir to Blair indeed.

    Labour’s internal schism seems to have been papered over, at least for the interim while wagons are circled.

    We need electoral reform. We need first to understand the implications of such changes.

    Prima facie, I support Cameron’s plans to equalise the size of constituencies by voter numbers. I haven’t yet seen any calculations on how this election would have turned out in such a scenario, but if you have, please leave a comment.

    Proportional representation is an altogether different proposition though. It’s one I may post separately about, or I may just refer you to those better qualified to comment than I.

    A twittist pointed out earlier that

    “if we had proportional representation result from election would be Conservatives 234 Labour 188 Lib Dems 149 UKIP 20 BNP 12 SNP 11 Greens 6”

    Perhaps, but if we had PR, people would have voted differently, due to the different tactics and implications involved in such a system.

    After a period of flux after the introduction of PR, new political axes would emerge, around which socialists, democrats, libertarians, nationalists, theists, neocons and others can coalesce. New parties and alliances would be forged in the heat of change.

    Can you see any other way that LPUK could become any kind of a force inside a generation?

    Sure, the BNP may get a go at seats in Parliament, having polled more than 500,000 votes, but so what? They’ve had council seats – they lost them all on Thursday. They have a seat in the EP. They’ll lose it. The BNP has imploded over the last couple of weeks, without any external interference.

    So if you want the right sort of radical representation, you also have to tolerate the wrong sort, be that BNP, EDP, CDP, socialist workers or whatever. At least, then, you get to have your debate, in Parliament, on TV, at the hustings.

    Discussions and arguments of real substance, with real passion.

    How could that be any worse than the 3 moribund Fabian dinosaurs that are currently carving up our future for their own benefit?

    Bring it on.

    AJ

    The state of play

    noose225[1]

    Here we are then. The morning after the night before. Well… the afternoon, but I only got up an hour ago, so bite me.

    I’m very depressed indeed. I have to accept that for all of the prognosticating and predicting, I failed to prepare myself psychologically for the situation we now find ourselves in.

    There were a few scalps, but none of these – even Jacqui Smith – compensated for the pain of seeing the likes of Ed Balls, Hazel Blears and Kerry McCarthy being re-elected.

    In spite of the biggest swing to the Tories in generations (and what more could have been hoped for really?), we’re in a precarious position now.

    I don’t know, yet, if anyone has done the maths on the new marginals, set against seats where there was electoral bananification – be that suspected postal voting fraud, or where people were left queuing outside polling stations as they closed their doors at 10pm last night. I suspect the number of important seats will be in single figures. Nevertheless, both of these shameful matters should be pursued with zeal.

    Turnout was much higher than I was predicting.

    I was always skeptical about a big Lib Dem breakthrough, but I am surprised by how badly they’ve actually done.

    I was hoping (against hope) that UKIP would make an impact. They really didn’t.

    I was hoping (against hope) that Old Holborn would make an impact. He really didn’t.

    I was hoping (against hope) that LPUK would make an impact. They really didn’t.

    Fair play to all of them for stepping up though.

    At the time of writing, things are very much up in the air.

    Cameron has come out as Prime Minister in waiting, offering to deal with the Lib Dems on things including electoral reform, but excluding PR.

    Clegg has said he’ll speak first to the Tories. But he’ll obviously also speak to Labour.

    Brown will offer him a referendum on PR that much of his party would be unable to refuse.

    All in all, talks are unlikely to reach a conclusion today. The pressure will be on, though, for something to be in place before the markets open on Monday morning. The Pound is down against the Euro(!) and things aren’t going to be pretty if we still don’t know by Monday morning.

    More later when the ramifications of all this have sunk in.

    AJ

    UPDATE: Worthy comment from:

    http://deargodmakeitstop.blogspot.com/2010/05/public-wants-what-public-gets.html

    http://www.boatangdemetriou.com/2010/05/hung-parliament-of-2010-few-thoughts.html

    Strange Days

    After four weeks of teeth-grindingly awful campaign news, today we have some bizarre happenings.

    Nigel Farage injured in a plane crash:

    image

    A Tory PPC pulls a lorry driver free of his overturned rig:

    image

    And apparently, oil has been struck off the Falkland Islands.

    image

    Interesting times.

    Hope Nigel Farage will be okay. If I was voting in Buckingham today, I’d at least want to know if Bercow could survive a plane crash before I’d cast my vote for him.

    AJ

    UPDATE: Man Widdicombe suspects foul play.

    Voting intentions

    Bella Gerens thinks declaring one’s voting intention is ‘lame’. But she doesn’t get a vote, so boo yah, septic Doris.

    I live in a very safe Tory seat. In 2005, the voting went something like this:

    Party Polled
    Conservative 55%
    Lib Dem 25%
    Labour 15%
    UKIP 5%

    To be blunt, my vote for or against the Tories won’t make a blind bit of difference.

    Which relieves me of a problem. We have to get Brown out, but I have several serious problems with voting for Cameron & his coterie of hooray crypto-socialists.

    So in the general election, I’ll be voting UKIP, with the aim of beating Labour into 4th place in this seat. UKIP are wrong on the burka ban, but they’re right on Europe and they’re right on the smoking ban.

    That said, if there was an LPUK candidate, I’d vote for them, however ‘pointless’.

    I’ll vote Conservative in the local elections, though, as we have an excellent Tory council who deserve backing.

    Off now to gratuitously burn vast quantities of fuel and terrify numpties.

    AJ

    There is a theme developing in this postal voting business

    … but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    Let me see, now.

    image

    ‘All the dodgy addresses seem to involve Bangladeshi names, and the police are terrified of investigating that community for fear of being branded racists.

    Tower Hamlets

    Bradford and Calderdale

    Derby

    and

    image

    two, seemingly inquisitive, Asian teenagers

    a fresh crop of attackers – I guess between four and six – joined in.

    In some instances there have been as many as 20 Bengali names supposedly living in two or three-bedroom flats.

    and

    image

    "I’m here for the 6 May election. I always come during elections," says Mr Chaudhry. "It’s basically so I can tell people how to vote and who to vote for.

    "Most of the Pakistanis here are from Mirpur, and I am the MP from Mirpur, and I know the issues here and who will be the best candidates to help solve the issues in Kashmir."

    The tribalism of Mirpuri politics being transferred to the UK, where clans stick together and elders make decisions for the whole extended family.

    Hmm.

    I’ll pose here the same question I posed on Twatter earlier:

    image

    Any thoughts?

    AJ

    Going Postal Voting

    At the end of my post about Kerry McCarthy’s unfortunate tweeting incident last week, I included some bits about postal voting fraud.

    It wouldn’t be election time if there was no consternation about postal voting.

    And here it is…

    image

    50?

    Officials report a flood of postal vote applications in marginal seats. With the outcome of the closest election in a generation hanging in the balance, a few thousand ‘stolen’ votes there could determine who wins the keys to Downing Street.

    The Metropolitan Police are examining 28 claims of major abuses across 12 boroughs – with four separate investigations in Tower Hamlets, East London.

    Labour supporters stand accused of packing the electoral roll at the last minute with relatives living overseas or simply inventing phantom voters.

    Officials in Tower Hamlets received 5,166 new registrations just before the April 20 deadline, and there has been no time to check them all.

    In Bethnal Green, it is feared the electoral register has been deliberately stacked with fictitious names.

    And with echoes of this post from 2009:

    The Mail’s Richard Kay has learned that for the first time ever the Commonwealth is dispatching a group of election monitors – more used to supervising banana republics – to scrutinise the results on Thursday.

    What it is to remember living in a first world country.

    AJ

    UPDATE: CF has more on correlations between accusations of postal fraud, and Labour seats.

    Also, a reporter from the Independent was attacked by a gang of Asian lads while investigating this, in the Bow constituency.

    UPDATE 2: One should always check the facts with The Daily Mash.

    So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, Gordbye

    image

    Last night’s debate was the best of the three by a country mile.

    Dimbles was by far the best moderator.

    Gordo either ‘mis-spoke’ or lied several times. His composure was threadbare throughout.

    Nick Clegg’s bubble has a slow but pronounced puncture. His answer on the Euro was hilarious.

    Although Cameron missed several open goals in the first 45 minutes, which I think was a big mistake, he did manage to drive his message home in the second half.

    You couldn’t have done a better mash up of Brown’s disastrous premiership than his very own summing up at the end. The above is practically the closing image of the whole debate.

    Finally, the debates came good.

    image

    AJ

    UPDATE: CF fillets Gordo’s last words.