Saturday News Review

Electoral reform

“Labour leadership contenders David and Ed Miliband said they would campaign for a “yes” vote if they were in charge. But rival Andy Burnham yesterday dismissed voting reform as a “peripheral issue”. He said: “It is not my party’s job to prop up the Liberal Democrats by helping them win a referendum that is important to them.” The expected timing of the vote, on the same day as the Holyrood parliament elections, has caused fury in Scotland.” – Scottish Daily Record

“Mr Cameron always intended to turn the tables by pushing Labour out to the left. The coalition with the Liberal Democrats wasn’t planned, but it may make his task easier. The candidates in Labour’s leadership election could make the same mistake as the Tories after 1997, as they fish for Labour votes, apparently forgetting that they will soon need to appeal to the wider electorate.” – The Independent

“Labour has backed the introduction of AV for Westminster, but some Labour MPs still see the referendum plan as a chance to embarrass the Coalition. Ed Balls, a candidate for the Labour leadership, also criticised the suggested date. “Holding it on a day when some parts of the country have elections but others do not will lead to unfair differential turnout,” said Mr Balls. A May 5 referendum would also be in defiance of advice from constitutional experts. Earlier this year, the House of Lords Constitutional Affairs Committee concluded that there should be “a presumption against holding referendums on the same day as elections” because of the risk that voters would be confused and results distorted.” – The Telegraph

“Labour’s support for the legislation necessary to hold the referendum could be put in jeopardy also by plans to cut the number of MPs and make all constituencies of equal, or near-equal, size – a long-held demand of the Conservatives. Shadow justice secretary Jack Straw expressed concern that the Government was trying to tie voting rules to “wholly partisan” measures that, he said, were intended to discriminate against Labour, which dominates northern England constituencies.” – Irish Times

“We should welcome the referendum on the alternative vote system in May 2011 (Coalition plans voting reform ballot in May, 2 July), as it will resolve the issue once and for all. If I was a betting man I’d put my money on a resounding no vote. Neutrals might observe that the electorate has already achieved power-sharing by the first-past-the-post system, and so there is no need for constitutional change. Conservatives have largely been against AV, and it is not in their self-interest, as they would stand to lose more seats. Labour may have been tempted to vote for AV to ensure a progressive majority, but that argument has been knocked on the head, because of Lib Dem support for regressive policies in the coalition.” – Letters, The Guardian

Frank Field: Labour has always been conservative

‘”The Labour movement has always been conservative with a small c,” he says, with a big laugh. “Look at the difficulties it’s having trying to change now that it’s had this huge walloping election defeat! They’re just trotting about as if nothing’s really happened.” Which hasn’t stopped him from nominating Ed Miliband – because he was the only one who “when somebody scored a joke off him in Commons would laugh. He could roll with the debate, rather than get very tense and upset. And I do think his skill of not putting people into boxes is very important for the Labour party, so that we can have a genuine debate, without the whole thing being personalised and excluding”.’ – Frank Field interview, The Guardian

The Twitterati

“He may no longer be in Government, but Leeds MP Ed Balls is still one of the most influential politicans on Twitter. The Labour MP for Morley and Outwood and former Schools Secretary has been named as the fifth most popular MP using the social networking site, with 12,000 followers.” – The Yorkshire Post

“SOUTH Shields MP David Miliband is near the top of the political Tweets table, according to a new survey. Virgin Media Business has revealed that former Foreign Secretary and Labour leadership hopeful Mr Miliband is the UK’s second-most powerful political Tweeter.  Top 10 of the most influential UK politicians on Twitter, put Mr Miliband in second place, behind Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.” – The Shields Gazette

Building votes for the future

“THE COALITION government must not be allowed to scrap Liverpool’s £350m school building  programme, Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband said today. He visited Childwall Sports College with Wavertree MP Luciana Berger  to speak to  headteachers about the programme, which is currently being reviewed by the Conservative/  Liberal Democrat government. “I think it is absolutely vital. I know from other parts of the country what a difference Building  Schools for the Future can make. It has a massive impact on the quality if the learning that the children receive.” The shadow energy secretary said he wanted to be Labour leader to inspire people and reach  out to them.” – Liverpool Echo

Where’s Gordon?

“ONCE THE DOMINANT figure in British politics, Gordon Brown has become the Invisible Man since his departure from Downing Street shortly after 7pm on May 11th to tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth. His low profile has been noticed, and been the subject of some barbs, most pointedly from his successor as prime minister, David Cameron, during exchanges with the Labour Party’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, in the House of Commons earlier this week. During a debate on the outcome of the recent Toronto meeting of the G8 – a stage so enjoyed by Brown – Harman sought a tribute from Cameron about Brown’s work on development aid. “I’d be delighted to, if he could be bothered to turn up to this House,” said Cameron.” – Irish Times

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