New Times,
New Thinking.

13 November 2009

PR referendum

Much hanging on this last-ditch attempt

By James Macintyre

The news that ministers including Tessa Jowell are leading a last-ditch attempt to make Labour adopt the “game-changer” that would be a referendum on a properly proportional electoral system in next week’s Queen’s Speech is to be welcomed by progressives.

My colleague Mehdi Hasan and I have long argued that this is the only way Labour can ensure it is on the front foot in the run-up to the general election and also do enough to win over the Liberal Democrats in the increasingly likely event of a hung parliament.

Our interview with Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary, made waves in Westminster — and dismayed Downing Street, I am reliably informed — when the reforming minister said the promise of an AV referendum after the election was not “set in stone”. We shall see. For Labour, the stakes could not be higher.

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