Friday, April 30, 2010

Labour on the wrong side of the true dividing line on electoral reform

Wonderfully symbolic that, just a week out from polling day, a motion was passed in the Scottish Parliament supporting the principle of proportional representation for Westminster elections - and that it was opposed outright not only by the Tories, but also by Labour. There could hardly be a more eloquent exposition of where the true dividing line lies on electoral reform, with only the SNP, Greens and Liberal Democrats in favour. What continues to baffle me is why Nick Clegg didn't nail Gordon Brown on that point in the first two leaders' debates, when the PM repeatedly and cynically tried to plant the bogus idea in voters' minds that his proposed change to the voting system is the same reform proposed by the Liberal Democrats and others for years. What was so difficult about saying "you are not proposing proportional representation, so no, we don't agree with you"? Clegg presumably had a tactical reason for not doing so, but it's beyond me what it could have been - at face value, it seemed to offer Labour a means to pinch PR-friendly voters from the Lib Dems and others on a wholly false prospectus.

Also in the Scottish Parliament, we had the surreal retro spectacle of Iain "the Snarl" Gray openly boasting about having 'led' the 1980s teachers' strike. Now could this be the same Labour party that in well over a decade of government at Westminster has never, to the best of my recollection, conceded the vague possibility that a strike might be justifiable? Perhaps Gray was the warm-up act for the abrupt 180-degree turn on industrial relations we might be about to witness if the party returns to opposition down south next week.

The moral consistency of the Labour animal is a truly wondrous thing to behold.

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