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13 June 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:18am

Will a Labour leadership candidate follow Alan Johnson’s example?

An opportunity in PR emerges in this narrow contest.

By James Macintyre

As Mehdi Hasan pointed out earlier on this blog, the most interesting story in today’s papers is the claim that Alan Johnson, the reform-minded former home secretary, is considering quitting the front bench in order to campaign for proportional representation. As Mehdi also pointed out, this marks a fresh contrast with the Labour leadership candidates, not one of whom — depressingly for electoral reformers — backs PR.

That there is agreement between the five pretenders on the matter presents an opportunity for one to take a stand. Andy Burnham has indicated that he is coming round to the Alternative Vote, having issued a tribal message to the NS hustings last week. It shows that candidates can change their minds.

Rumour has it that at least one of the more realistic candidates is considering breaking ranks and following Johnson on PR. Johnson is backing David Miliband, who would boost his pluralist credentials by sticking his neck out. After all, a key to this leadership election is showing you can win over those floating voters who voted Lib Dem and did not want to crown David Cameron.

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