Wednesday News Review

Join the club

Harriet Harman, the interim Labour leader, says a new breed of young political activist, committed to opposing the coalition government and the Liberal Democrats in particular, is joining Labour at a rate of 1,000 a week. She said the unprecedented growth in membership, albeit from a historic low base, represents a huge challenge to the party as it tries to make sure the activism has an effective outlet in opposing the government. She said the party’s research shows that half the 30,000 new recruits are previous Labour supporters but regard voting as not enough to change things. A third are former Liberal Democrat supporters angry with the way in which Nick Clegg formed a coalition government. – The Guardian

The Campaign

After a opening few weeks that were, frankly, as dull as watching people watching paint dry, the campaign for leadership seems to have sprung to something resembling lively as the candidates appear to have realised that just as ‘I agree with Nick’ didn’t work for Gordon, ‘I didn’t agree with Gordon’ wasn’t a particularly great line for them to each spew out. Suddenly policy has become the subject of the leadership race, each contender sharing their core ideas across a variety of subject areas. – Political Promise

It rather sums up this whole curious business. This is the leadership election that time forgot. Its sheer vacuity was captured by Polly Toynbee in this recent dispatch from the trenches in which she reminds us – horror of horrors – that there have already been 12 leadership hustings but there are just FORTY FOUR more to go. By the time the result is declared in September, it’s not only the Labour membership that will be past caring – so will the five candidates. – The Telegraph


Carswell is in favor of electoral reform (open primaries, a recall for naughty and useless MPs, etc.) but is puzzled by what the Tory leadership thinks it is up to. He says: “I still don’t see why we signed up to AV. Am I missing something?” It is a question quite a few of his colleagues are asking. And combined with the considerable opposition from Labour MPs to AV (from FPTP fans and full PRists who see AV as a sellout) there is the possibility of quite a bit of fun as Nick Clegg tries to ram this bill through Parliament. – The Wall Street Journal

JOHN Prescott claims plans for a referendum on a new voting system is “cover for the biggest gerrymandering of seats” he has seen in 40 years in politics. The former deputy prime minister said the proposals were “poisonous” and he called on Labour to fight them tooth and nail. The Con-Dem coalition plan to hold a referendum on May 5 next year on switching to the Alternative Vote (AV). – The Daily Record

Michael Moore, the Scottish Secretary, is considering handing over more powers to Holyrood to allow it to vary its own election date by several months to avoid the clash with the General Election in 2015, Whitehall sources have told The Herald. This could mean the Scottish poll in five years’ time will take place either in the early spring or the late autumn of that year. Labour last night accused the coalition Government of “making this up as they go along” while the SNP said it had got itself into a total mess. – The Herald

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