Friday, February 05, 2010

Last Night in Birmingham

Last night's pre Election Question Time style debate in Birmingham went off really well. Andrew Mitchell, Jacqui Smith, John Hemming and former Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves were on the panel.

Somewhat bizarrely, the subject we had more questions submitted than any other, was Sion Simon's possible candidacy for Mayor of Birmingham. It turned out that only two people in the audience were in favour of an elected mayor for Birmingham. John Hemming announced that he would stand for the job if it became available, but he didn't feel the need to resign his seat to do so, since the job doesn't yet exist.

The other subject which caused a good debate was proportional representation. John Hemming made clear that the LibDems would support the government's motion on Tuesday, as AV represented some sort of progress. Odd, since it can be argued that it would produce an even less proportional result that FPTP. Jacqui Smith is clearly not a fan of AV but she hinted she would support the government motion as it was purely concerned with setting up a referendum on the issue.

I think next week's event in Manchester is either full, or very close to being full. But if you'd like to register for it, and go on a waiting list, please email There are a few places left for the Leeds event on the 18th. London is oversubscribed by a factor of 3.

UPDATE: A sound recording of the event will be available later for your delectation.


trevorsden said...

The libdem position on AV is just typical of their rampant hypocrisy.

Dan said...

Congratulations on your shortlisting for Surrey East Iain.

DespairingLiberal said...

Probably the LibDems are just scared to reject it and then be accused with "why do you say you support PR when you voted it against it" type accusations aimed at those with limited understanding. Iain is right that AV is no more proportional than FPTP, but that is a bit sophisticated for many voters. On that level, it's a shrewd piece of politicking by Brown. On every other level it's pants. Why on earth rush it through now in the dying days? Is Brown trying to curry some ridiculous favour with history? Or is his notorious blinkered partisanship trying to give the Tories one more problem to wrestle with when elected?

Ian Batten said...

I've been told by people in a position to know that Labour's objection to an elected mayor was that there was a strong chance that Carl Chinn would run and win, using his WM pradio show as a platform. He's certainly got political intentions: I recall he stood against Hattersley on some strange independent bookmaker ticket some years ago. Chinn's blend of nostalgia and protectionism, consisting mostly of a rose-tinted view of the industrial past that appeals almost exclusively to an older, whiter audience would take Birmingham back to the 1970s. You could leave your door open and the criminals only hurt their own kind, you know.

Ian said...

The Electoral Reform Society are also pro-AV, on the basis that if the British public are exposed to preference voting, and cope well with it (which of course they will), then it removes one of the arguments against their preferred system of multi-member STV.

In fact, of course, it removes two arguments, because of the weak-but-still-sometimes-deployed defense that FPTP is somehow "traditional," which is a brilliant idea - on that basis we should send mounted knights to fight in Helmand, and not let those pesky women vote either.

I would urge every current Tory candidate to read the excellent ERS report:

You only have to see how idiotic Pickles looked on Newsnight the other night to realise how badly out-of-date the Tories are on this. They're going to get beaten over the head for a month by Brown calling them the party of resisting change - instead they should outflank him and promise to introduce STV when elected. This would guarantee some tactical Lib Dem votes in a few marginal seats - enough to secure a decent majority perhaps?

WV: unworse - very Orwellian!

Adrian said...

Photos from last night

Norfolk Blogger said...

At least you have a more representative panel than QT time.

As for Trevorsden comment, your constant attacks on the Lib Dems are par for the norm, so another one hardly comes as a surprise.

One could argue that the Tories support for devolving power is hypocritical since they did nore to give powers to the EU (the Single European Act) and also take powers from local government when in power from 1979 to 1997, but don't let your prejudices get in the way of an attack onthe Lib Dems.

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