According to the Observer’s Whitehall editor, Toby Helm, the government is planning to portray the Tories as a “roadblock” to much-needed, post-expenses constituonal reform.
“…plans are being considered to hold a referendum on general election day in which people would be asked to support or reject a switch from the present first-past-the-post system to a new model, under which candidates would need to have the support of at least 50% of voters to be elected.”
In its editorial (“Our voting system needs a radical overhaul”) plays up its supposed exclusive (e.g. “The Observer reveals today that the government is considering holding a referendum on electoral reform to coincide with a general election”). But regular readers of the New Statesman will have spotted that it was our political correspondent James Macintyre who first broke this story over a month ago:
“Word reaches me from a senior cabinet ally of the Prime Minister that the recent proposal by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, for a referendum on PR to be held on the day of the next general election is being considered at the highest levels. Like Roy Hattersley, a recent convert to PR and a Labour weathervane, Brown is said to be increasingly aware of PR’s merits. He is also in favour of a written constitution.”
Let’s hope both James and the Toby are right….