One of the main complaints against Gordon Brown by Labour backbenchers has been that he has failed to articulate a vision, and instead insists on announcing a raft of unconnected, short termist measures which are politically motivated and designed to put the Tories on the back foot. And that is exactly how they are viewing the announcement today on electoral reform and the House of Lords. The proposals emanated from a meeting of Brown's new Democratic Reform Council, which if rumour is to be believed, lasted for less than ninety minutes. So part of our constitution and our electoral system are to be radically changed, and all in ninety minutes. And someone said yesterday, the main aim is to make life uncomfortable for the Tories.
But as I have said before, make policy in haste and repent at leisure. Now I am a great fan of rederendums. Indeed, I'd like the government to make good on their promise to have one on the European Constitution. I'd also quite like one to let the voters of England decide whether they want an English Parliament. But while I am not against having one on electoral reform, has anyone given any serious consideration as to what question you would actually ask? Think about it. How on earth would you word it? Would you mention a proposed system in the question? Because I am sure they talk about nothing else but the merits of AV+ down the dog and duck.
At the PLP meeting Gordon promised to change. This is the first bit of proof that leopards don't change their spots. No vision, just Gordon.
Wednesday Morning's update. And it's full speed ahead for the iceberg!
Gordon certainly won't change his spots.
His other problem is the public won't trust Labour on this matter. Labour has no mandate for electoral reform.
Labour need a mandate to get this through.
Without a mandate, they will not be able to escape the charge of putting forward proposals that benefit the Labour party, rather than the country.
Gordon is seriously deluded if he thinks AV+ will save Labour's bacon. Here in Scotland we have the 'joys' of such a system and a SNP administration who have done surprisingly well. Anyway Labour cannot change the elctoral system without a national referendum, and they would probably lose that. The current ploy by Brown only goes to show what sort of scum this man is. Labour are gutless and think that fiddling the system would save a 'few' seats; that is how desperate they have become.
Who can look an Arab king in the eye and persuade him that democracy works, at least their children must live with their decisions.
There will never be world peace whilst Gordon Brown abuses democracy.
You can't achieve world peace with Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.
Of course the wording of the question will be the responsibility of The Electoral Commission.
Can this man not think of serious electoral reform instead of this usual grab the headlines crap he pulls all the time.
He claimed he will change, openness, etc. Then less than 24 hours later, broken that promise by keeping the report about Malik's expenses secret. A 59 year old 'lets call him socially inadequate' does not change his behavior.
Please can we just have a countdown to election?
My understanding is that there would be a debate to see if cross party concensus could be reached on the principle of electoral reform.
It obvioulsy won't be with respect to the Commons as the Conservatives wont' support it.
Cue opportunity for Labour to spin 'we wanted to reform but the Tories blocked it'.
Its got Mandelson's fingerprints all over it.
As for how would you ask the question, I haven't got a clue.
Any of the commentators going for the jugular on the non-disclosure of the Malik report?
Because I am sure they talk about nothing else but the merits of AV+ down the dog and duck.
And the electorate becomes ever surer that the political class are just a bunch patronising sh*ts.
And it was trailed in the Press. I thought one of the new promises was to introduce discussions in Parliament (or at the very least to the PLP. But Nick Robinson yet again was Gordons mouthpiece.
At least he hasn't youtubed about it yet, has he ?
An if a referendum is held, on any topic, will the government take any notice of it?
I voted, with the vast majority, against having an elected regional assembly in the North East, and so we got an unelected one.
The Irish are being made to vote again on Lisbon until the get the right answer, its hardly a first for europe.
No, the wording of, and response to, any referendum will be twisted and pushed to, and beyond, the limit, to fit whatever the government wants to hear.
The first recorded instanc eof one G Brown playing fast and loose with other people's money and property was in his student days when he co-edited "Alternative Edinburgh", a book teacing students how to get freebies and rip-offs.
He has been a leopard for about 40 years, can you spot the difference between then and now ?
Sentient WV : redness, FFS !
Democratic Reform Council?
A group of Labour ministers holding a secret meeting behind closed doors on the future of our election process.
Oh yes - very frigging democratic.
Shame they didn't call it the Department for Democratic Reform.
Then we'd have looked at the initials and seen it for what it is.
"Gordon's Changed? Don't Make Me Laugh? All pigs fed and watered and ready to fly.
Look, let's get real here.
Brown has no intention of reforming the method of voting in general elections.
What he does want to do is to underpin the basis on which he has said there shouldn't be a general election now:
1) clean up the economy
2) clean up politics
3) reform public services.
The more chatter he creates about electoral reform (and yes, Iain, this blog is falling into the trap too), the more is feeds his assertion that he has a duty to "clean up" before calling an election.
Just ignore his silly little democratic reform council/commission/congerence whatever it's called.
Couple of thoughts, slightly O/T:
1) how will Cameron go in PMQs? If we were right, and he was going easy on Brown last week in order not to push him over the edge, then will he go hard today?
2) Back to the list of Brown's reasons against having an election now. The third point - public servivce reform - only appeared last Friday morning; up to that point it had just been the first two.
Nobody seems to have commented on this sudden this reversion to one of the old Blairite themes. Presumably it was a price extracted by one or more of the Blairites who stayed on board. Will be interesting to see what becomes of this - has Gordon really fallen in love with putting the citizen first in public services? If so, is it the first time that he has sought to occupy the same ground as Cameron rather than try to draw lines between their policies.
The leadership of the Labour party is so afraid of losing even the safest of safe seats that they want to get themselves on the top of a party list so that it's impossible to get rid of the select few, no matter how unpopular Labour becomes.
How can Labour possibly sell this to the electorate? A system without party lists,like STV or AV might be sellable, but AV+. All the opposition needs to do is publish an informed guess of the top twenty names on the Labour party list together with their expenses and this referendum would go nowhere.
Somehow I can no longer accept anything that Gordon Brown says. He was lost all my trust. I now look for purely political motives in everything he does and says. Why does he not set up a royal commission on parliamentary reform with an open process and televise it and then let the people decide if they like what is proposed at the next election. I do not want him pushing ideas because anything he says is not tainted in my view.
I meant "is tainted"!
Continuing Rexel No 58's O/T bits;
I think Cameron should go in really hard today,
Couple of ideas for questions:
1) Why, if the Chancellor was always going to keep his job could the Prime Minister not confirm that when I asked in this house last week?
2) The Prime Minister has said he wants transparent and open Government, if so can he explain why the report in to Malik's expenses isn't being made public?
That should Rexel No 56 not 58, apols.
I'm expecting plenty of punishments on the voter, Iain, obfuscated but still a punishment.
It's Brown's style and mentality. If he had any sense he would sit on his hands and coast it to the next election, but since Gordon is just being Gordon, he will be giving the Tories more fuel for their already sizable fire.
Brown won't change. He never has, so why will he now. It's no good the Labour backbenchers whinging about 'not having a vision' as it's been perfectly clear for years that he has got a vision, a vision of 'Brown in Power for Ever and the Tories Destroyed'. But that, of course, like everything else he's done, is just NBG.
Look, he may be a charming bloke in private. He may be great fun, sincere, hardworking and all the rest of it but if someone's NBG, however nice they are, they're still NBG and that's an end of it.
In his case, even if all alledged nice bits were true they would be cancelled out by one fact, he is a liar. And that is the end of it.
This is reminiscent of the Dear Leader Tony Blair's attempt to abolish the office of Lord Chancellor by press release. When all else fails, the Old Stalinist takes Labour back to its real roots - tax & spend, class envy and altering the electoral system to keep themselves in power. This is an elephant trap to make the Tories look positively Ruritanian on the electoral process - the same old moat-cleaning Tories compared to nice new whiter-than-white Labour (while conveniently ignoring the fact that he has a Cabinet full of retreads).
The problem has not been the election of candidates to serve as MPs, it's been the behaviour of those who have already been elected. There is only one word for this latest act of bunker-based craziness - gerrymandering.
Change from what into what exactly? "Change" has become one of the most devalued words in modern politics.
Come on, we all know what Brown meant. He was begging his party to give him another chance, that's all. If they are stupid enough to believe a cynical, number-crunching automaton, then they deserve to lose their seats.
Presumably Brown is now waking up every morning bubbling with plans for electoral reform as his chief priority?
Can anyone believe that the electorate (other than anoraks like us who post here) are seriously bothered by voting systems, when they are losing their jobs by the 1000s?
And if we were to have a referendum on a change, could it please be one in which if the overall vote is less than 50% of the electorate, the result is null and void?
It could probably be fairly quickly with one or two carefully planted opinion polls which instead of asking "Do you want to get rid of FPTP asked "which of these systems would you like (including FPTP). That would proably show an even split across lots of diff options suggesting no clear preference. Then you have another poll where you say something like "The BNP gained two seats under a PR system. Is Fascism a price worth paying for electoral reform?
Now Why did I think of Saddams "I can change" song from South Park?
Iain - just a thought......
Full steam ahead on the Democratic Council or whatever today's flavour is.
Keep it on the front burner approaching the GE and then announce that
"It is clear the voting public want change. We need to push back the GE until we can ratify the proposals".
Wouldn't put it past them!
The only reform I want to see is an English Parliament. I'm sick of this god awful Darien government jiggering around with England. Come on people, let's get with it and demand an English Parliament.
Another scenario for PR supporters to think about -esp the Lib Dems. The working assumtpinot date has been a three party system -so PR should guarantee centre left governments -or at least Tories oderated by Lib Dems -permanent Lib Dem power in effect.
But as we saw in the Euros -PR is a potential game changer. A vote for UKIP is no longer a wasted vote at a General election. So imagine the result is something like the Eoro or local electinos just gone.
Result, the tories are the biggest party but need allies to form a coalition. Step forward Nigel Farage "We will support you, provided you hold a referedum on leaving the EU."
The Tory leadership receive messages through the usual channels that most MPs prefer this option to a Con-Lib alliance as are most party members.
I'd be pointing this out to Labour backbenchers if I were in a position to!
Gordon will not change because he has absolutely no doubt that he is the best person to run the country, so doesn't even listen to other people's views.
That is why he gives the same few replies to all questions.
I agree about an English Parliament Iain. With devolution to the other Home Nations England has fallen into a democratic deficit.
I favour the removal of MPs from those Home Nations from Westminster. There would of course have to be reserved matters such as defence. These could be dealt with at Westminster by inviting MPs from the other home Nations devolved Parliament to Westminster to vote on them.
The proportoin of MPs from the other devolved Parliaments attending these reserved matter debates would co-respond to the proportion of their population to the whole of the UK. This would mean if Scotlands population is 10% of the whole they can send 10% of the MPs meaning an English Westminster Parliament of 400 English MPs with see 40 Scottish MPs debating and voting on reserved matters.
I think you should sign up to the English Claim of Right Iain 960 others have so far.
The only reason King John signed Magna Carta into law was to get the barons off his back while he secured his power base. He went back on just about every promise he made.
I bet he talked about listening more and making changes, too...
The AV system sure will be a topic of conversation down at the Dog and Duck, for instance I do not wish to even indicate a preference for the COns, Liebour nor LIB Dumb but I shall be forced to if AV ever gets implemented.
Secondly,there is nothing wrong with the Parliamentary system that has served the country well for the last 1000 years it is the crap that presently operates within the system (all parties). Liken the House of Commons to a perfectly good swimming pool that is, unfortunately, full of piss, it is a lousy place to be and smells to high heaven, all that needs to be done is for the piss to be drained off and the pool re-filled with fresh, sweet smelling water, job done.
@ Tim W
I also voted against the establishment of Northumberland CC as a unitary authority. In fact the MAJORITY of those who voted did so. We were ASKED and then totally ignored. Same happened in Durham and other counties (was Cornwall one such).
So "listening" Gordon goes through the motions and then does what he always intended anyway.
Gordon, and the whole New Labour commissariat, care not a jot what the people think and will simply issue the "el dopa" of SAYING that they are listening.
They "listened" to the electorate over the weekend and then convinced themselves that the problem was simply to do with the expenses scandal and said so. What TOSH. Can't go on because I'm getting angry again!
The biggest democratic scandal is met by silence in the media - an MP elected in Scotland, on a wholly English manfisto!!
Gordon Brown can never, ever, claim to be democratic while he rules over England and refuses to allow us to elect our own governemnt, just as Scotland, Wales and NI do now.
This issue will not go away. Australia doesn't shirk at reporting on it http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/ [click on Brown fights for troubled leadership on scroll bar on right]
Iain,mention a English Parliament to either Brown or Cameron,they will choke over their biccy's.but that is the only "democratic"way to go.the forgotten English voters are ready to strike back!!!!
I feel a bit surreal about all this. After several months of the most astonishing serial fusterclucks for Labour, it was Monday morning and back to the same-old, same-old. Will the electorate really let Brown carry on like nothing's happened? Where is all that anger going to go for the next year?
AV takes away the most basic fairness of any system , One man one vote.Supporters of minority Parties get two votes and we know exactly what he has in mind , that Conservatives traditionally do relatively less well on second choices.
AV is even more disproportionate than first-past-the-post (FPTP). ...”In 1997Democratic Audit .....arried out an expert simulation of the actual general election result that year and calculated that AV would have produced a more disproportionate outcome than FPTP - the deviation from proportionality was 23.5 per cent under AV, 21 per cent under FPTP. Labour's bloated seat count would have risen to 436 seats. ....’
Mugabe Brown strikes again.
Labour MPs are entirely to blame for our undemocratic system. They had the political capital, the power and a manifesto commitment in 1997 to do something about this undemocratic mess and they made sure nothing was done. Blair was left with absolutely no room by backbenchers. It is their fault and theirs alone.
I just summed it up on Next left and thought I would share it
If two candidates get 35% each, and then the other 30% is split between various candidates, then the question is which candidate has majority support among the entire electorate.
I said .....
Two Candidates do not get 35% each so the question does not arise , if they do then it is not a safe seat so we do not have the problem this is ,(laughably), supposed to address. There is no call for this system at all, so again it does not arise. This leaves some perplexing loose ends .....
1Q: Why does the Labour Party suggest it ?
A: No mystery ;because the Conservative Party is traditionally the second choice of relatively few voters and they therefore wish to count weak second preferences as on a par with strong first preferences .
2 Q: Why should they be?
A: No reason except the calculated advantage to Labour.
3 Q: Why now ?
A: To put the Conservative Party on the back foot because Brown needs anything .
4 Q: How do we know?
A :There will be no referendum
5 Q :Why now?
A: New Labour achieved 16% of the popular vote under the almost as dreadful PR system having enjoyed a huge majority under the old system for ten years .
6 Q: Why was this momentous principle was forgotten for ten years?
A See above
7 Q Is the current system unfair ?
A: No .We all get one vote, we all see all the Parties and we all decide what to do.
8 Q :So whats Labour’s problem.
A :See above
9 Q: Why Does Sunder Quote London
A: It was held during a period when Labour were at what then seemed a historic low ebb. Labour’s candidate has an atypical history of far left authoritarianism and as such appealed little to Liberals
.10 Q So why quote this atypical election ?
A It is the only one and because you would like to make a misleading case for a gerrymandering measure designed to retain power for possible the most hatred administration of my life time .
If we like referendums how about the referendum we were promised ?Why not let the English decide their own voting system for the English Parliament that would have to follow ? Why not correct the boundary commission lag so as to hand the Conservative Party the 50 seats plus they are due and stop counting Scottish and Welsh votes twice .
If people feel so strongly that despite there wish to vote Lib Dem of Green they wish to support the Labour Party on the basis that they hate the Conservatives they are at liberty to do so( too much Liberty which a PR HOL would address). If they do not feel that strongly then a Conservatuve win is an accurate reflection of the feelings of the voters. Your idea is a distortion and I see no evidence here you have even understood why. Let us hope the rest of the defence is similarly weak and we are not obliged to take the streets to defend democracy from this assault.
I am rather glad overall this has arisen.It is such a naked and desperate attempt to rig the system that all future ones will be tarnished.
Gordon Brown is the last person to be trying to reform anything he is discredited by the expenses and besides Mandelson has a hand in this and I would not trust him. Brown is trying to engineer this so that he stays in power andwreeks ever more damage and England is not his country. I agree with Iain all Brown has ever done even when he was chancellor was make policies so that he could beat the Tories and get them on the back foot. anyone read what Liam Byrne said about George Osborne and the Tories about the Tories making an economic mess Browns government is all made of of crooks hasbeens and people of low intelligence
The dilemma facing Gordon Brown and one reason for the policy vacuum is that to really address the problems facing the country would first involve accepting the huge mistakes already made something we know he is incapable of doing.
When Blair and Brown made their infamous pact Blair essentially ceded domestic policy to Brown, his ‘policy’ was to throw vast amounts of (our) money at schools’n’hospitals without any informed attempt to make sure the money was well spent. I suspect he is genuinely perplexed that it hasn’t worked, cannot admit as much and consequently cannot work out where to from here.
We would probably all accept his arrogance and his bullying style if he were competent. His lack of competence, which has been obvious to some of us, is gradually dawning on both the electorate and the Labour party. Some will never acknowledge the scale of the disaster that is Gordon Brown’s effect on Britain in the same way that many Russians cannot accept that Stalin was a brutal mass murderer. Gordon Brown boasted that he was a good, indeed great, Chancellor – who could forget the arrogant claim to have abolished boom and bust – when history will show him as a spendthrift incompetent too stupid to realise the damage he was doing.
The list of errors both large and small is long but for starters how about:
- The destruction of one of the better funded private pension sectors with the stealth tax right in his first budget - £5bn per annum and still running.
- Taking banking supervision away form the Bank and replacing it with a tripartite structure that failed to spot the impending crisis. The FSA don’t understand regulation and instead are obsessed with pointless compliance.
- Selling gold reserves at the bottom of the market.
- And so on
Gordon Brown is a disaster as a Prime Minister but was also a disaster as Chancellor and de facto domestic Prime Minister since 1997.
Please remind your readers and correspondents that we have an unelected PM, now enveloped with unelected cohorts to continue his bullying agenda
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