Archive for April, 2011

The week Uncut

30/04/2011, 02:21:08 PM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Atul Hatwal reports on Jim Murphy’s climb up the shadcab league table

Sunder Katwala rules out an early election

Kevin Meagher asks what kind of leaders do we have?

Rob Marchant says Cameron is benefiting from Labour’s AV squabbles

Uncut gets to know shadow health secretary John Healey

Calum Wright analyses Labour’s campaign in Scotland

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The sad and soporific history of electoral reform

30/04/2011, 10:30:43 AM

by Alex Hilton

The debate on electoral reform has collapsed under the weight of its own tepid irrelevance. A dishonest and lowbrow No campaign has bested an insipid and directionless Yes effort and we will be left where we started – with a system of government that remains happily unaccountable. This is a missed moment in history and blame can be variously attributed.

To start, Tony Blair reneged on his 1997 promises of electoral reform as his weighty majorities were too good to lose. By the third term, when the old “progressive majority” arguments might have made some headway, Blair didn’t seem terribly interested in the future and may no longer have had the political capital to achieve reform had he tried.

The next opportunity came with the expenses scandal. The electoral reform society at that time could have harnessed a wave of public anger powerful enough to bring down the government and to force any new government into accepting the system had to change. But ERS was coaxed by the Labour factions, Compass and Progress, into  a “behind the scenes” negotiation which, after a number of months, delivered a manifesto commitment from Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on the alternative vote – a system ERS didn’t want – if he won the general election, which seemed clear wasn’t going to happen.

By that time, the anger over the expenses scandal had turned partly to boredom, the public becoming desensitised to the crookedness and low level criminality of their legislators. The Conservatives very much approached the general election as an opportunity for catharsis. Their subtext was that it was in some way the government’s fault and that by punishing the governing party, the public would have achieved closure on the issue. That would have been the end of the matter had they achieved a majority in 2010.

The prospect of coalition revived hopes for electoral reform and the Lib Dems were offered AV without plebiscite by Brown and a binding referendum on AV by Cameron. Though it wasn’t even an electoral system they wanted, they felt that coalition with the Conservatives was the only viable option and that if they pushed for a preferred system, the single transferrable vote, for example, they would be accused of using the upheaval for their own self interest. In short, they took a knife to a gunfight and left the negotiations with very little worth having, seemingly grateful just to have been invited.

The various groups pushing for reform then had to unify to campaign for a system they didn’t want, but while they were doing so, Labour was spending five months tortuously electing a new leader.

During the Labour leadership campaign, all the contenders backed the AV system, some more enthusiastically than others. Confused as it was with the on-going election post mortem, the issue was already in train in Parliament and government before anyone was prepared to show anything like leadership on the issue. Any one of the aspiring leaders, or indeed Harriet Harman as acting leader, could have pressed for the referendum to include a further, better, option, perhaps that of STV; but none of them was prepared to do so, not least because going to the Parliamentary Labour party offering a system that would really end safe seats would reduce MP support in the leadership election itself.

As 2011 began and the referendum campaign developed, the people of Britain were faced with the option of voting for a system so compromised that even its supporters were ambivalent. Our entire political system, left, right and centre, through cowardice or through calculation, ensured that the only reform available was one that has only very little to offer.

It seems likely the country will vote no, if it votes at all. And then those who rule us can go back to ruling, and the rest of us can go back to sleep. Maybe we’re the ones to blame.

Alex Hilton is a former councillor and Parliamentary candidate and was the original Labour blogger.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Saturday News Review

30/04/2011, 06:51:12 AM

A nation celebrates

David Cameron, still in his morning suit, tucked into cake and posed for pictures at the No10 celebration. Guests included actress Barbara Windsor, schoolchildren and charity fundraisers, young and old. The PM said: “It’s been an amazing day.” In Anglesey, North Wales, where Prince William serves at the RAF base, thousands partied in a showground. One reveller said: “I expect William won’t be at the pub’s quiz night with his friends as often now he’s married.” Coronation Street star William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, joined 300 friends and neighbours in Wilmslow, Cheshire. In ­Southampton, Michaela Coutakis, 45, dressed in patriotic colours, said: “We’re not royalists but it’s bringing the ­country together. We will remember this when we’re old and grey. She looked absolutely stunning.” Outside the royal residence of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, people enjoyed picnics and drank bubbly on the lawn where six large TVs showed the wedding. Mother Amanda Mann, 40, said: “You can’t put a price on memories like today.” – Daily Express

While the nation readies itself for mass jubilation tomorrow as Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot, Downing Street too has got in on the act – with a little bit of bunting. Perhaps the Government didn’t want to give the wrong impression in these times of austerity as the bunting budget clearly didn’t stretch very far. There may have been no signs of Union Flags or George Crosses outside – but it was a different matter inside. Larry the cat – brought in to deal with a rodent problem – was seen sporting a very patriotic bow tie ahead of the No.10 street party. Sitting on the Cabinet table, wearing his little Union Flag number, he looked as happy as, well, Larry – but let’s hope he won’t be called on for his official rat-catching duties tomorrow. The usually cordoned-off street will host a party for 100 revellers to celebrate the Royal Wedding. Guests for the do are mostly pensioners chosen by local charities and Save The Children. As well as tucking into home-made cupcakes – which Samantha Cameron helped to bake – they will be entertained with games. To get in the mood for the big day, David Cameron took a stroll along The Mall this evening and met well-wishers. He also re-visited the spot where he camped out at for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981. – Daily Mail

Dave says “They have no right to stop you having fun”

An unofficial street party in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park was descending into violence tonight as police stuggled to cope with a crowd of thousands of revellers. Hundreds of thugs threw missiles at officers and at least three cops were injured. Two teenagers had organised the rave in on Facebook on the back of a pledge from PM David Cameron, who hit out at spoilsport councils for blocking parties with red tape. However trouble flared after the plug was pulled more than three hours early on the unofficial event, amid rising tensions and scuffles inside and outside the park. Many of the 4000-strong crowd at the bash were boozing heavily and attacked officers as they tried to split up a fight. The event was organised after David Cameron attacked “pen pushers and busybodies” for thwarting royal wedding celebrations. The PM said : “They have no right to stop you from having fun. I am the Prime Minister and I am telling you if you want to have a street party, you go ahead and have one.” – Daily Record

Police condemned “irresponsible” drunkenness after arresting 21 people when violence broke out at an unauthorised Glasgow park rave to coincide with the royal wedding. One officer was taken to hospital with a head injury after police moved in to break up the unofficial party in Kelvingrove Park, and police say more arrests could be made as they study video footage. More than 4000 revellers, mostly in their teens and early-twenties, converged on the beauty spot yesterday and the majority were drinking. Glasgow City Council, which now has to mount a huge clean- up operation, had warned against the unofficial party and urged people to find a “safer alternative” way to celebrate. JJ Gardner, 19, one of two students who organised the event, spreading the word through social networking sites, said: “David Cameron said people wanting to organise street parties should forget the red tape. That’s what we’re doing.” – Daily Herald

Hain has a howler

Crude politics has intruded on the Royal Wedding after all, and all courtesy of Peter Hain. The Shadow Welsh Secretary has complained — on Twitter, naturally — that the BBC’s coverage of the event dwelt too long on David Cameron and Nick Clegg, and ignored Ed Miliband. “BBC airbrushing Labour like the Palace?” he asked leadingly. The Tory minister David Jones has since admonished him, “time, place, Peter.” If Labour have much sense they’ll play this down as efficiently as possible. Miliband, it is true, barely featured in the television coverage — but that’s really beside the point. It is rarely smart politics to take on the Palace at any time. Yet on the day of the Royal Wedding it’s just downright foolish. Hain’s outburst may not have been the official party line, but he is still a shadow cabinet member, and his leader could have lived without this embarrassment. – the Spectator

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain was rebuked by Labour bosses yesterday after accusing the BBC of political bias in its coverage of the royal wedding. He also appeared to attack the royal family when he took to social networking site Twitter to complain there had been far fewer television shots of Labour leader Ed Miliband during the course of the coverage than of Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg. Mr Hain tweeted: “Loads of TV coverage of Cameron and Clegg at wedding but none of Ed. BBC airbrushing Labour like the palace?” The second line is a reference to former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown not being invited to the wedding, unlike other living former premiers Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major. Responding to Mr Hain’s comments, a senior Labour source said: “The last thing Ed and Justine [Thornton, Mr Miliband’s fiancee] are worried about is getting on television on William and Kate’s big day. It should just be about them. No-one should be trying to make a political row on this day of celebration.” – Western Mail

A day to bury bad news

Labour has accused health bosses of burying bad news on royal wedding day when it emerged that the health regulator Monitor had predicted hospitals would have to make efficiency savings up to 50% higher than previously envisaged. Monitor, in a letter to NHS foundation trusts dated 27 April and released on Thursday, said the higher efficiency savings were partly due to inflation rising above predicted levels. Monitor oversees NHS foundation trusts and assesses applications for foundation status. It is due to become the overall regulator for the whole of the NHS under the government shakeup. It suggested average savings of up to 7% a year may be required in the acute sector over the next five years, compared with the 4% called for by the Department of Health as part of efforts to slash £20bn from running costs. – the Guardian

John Healey, the shadow health secretary, raised questions over the timing of an official announcement that hospitals may need to make savings far greater than those already planned. He said the statement by Monitor, that leading hospitals must make savings of up to 7 per cent a year, proved that the reorganisation of the NHS and cost-cutting plans are putting the system under “huge strain”. Mr Healey said: “With all eyes on the Royal Wedding, the Government is trying to bury bad news on the NHS. This confirms the combination of broken promises on NHS funding and reorganisation is putting a huge strain on hospitals. David Cameron must halt his high-risk, high cost overhaul of the NHS. The Prime Minister promised to protect the NHS but his health policies are piling extra pressure on health services, and patients are starting to see the NHS going backwards again under the Tories.” In plans established under Labour, the NHS must make efficiency savings of 4 per cent of its budget by 2015, totaling £20billion. Many trusts have already announced job cuts and service reductions, although ministers want them to concentrate on reducing waste. But Monitor, which oversees the 137 leading hospitals known as Foundation Trusts, has warned them that they may need to make savings of at least 50 per cent more than initially thought.  – Daily Telegraph

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The so-called Liberal Democrats need more discrimination

29/04/2011, 01:00:47 PM

by Ray Filar

“Political equality is a pre-requisite for, not just a
consequence of, social equality”.

– Why Lib Dem Women Face Electoral Meltdown, the fabian society.

Fans of the political cockfest rejoice: Lib Dem women MPs could soon be “wiped out”. This week, The fabian society released a report arguing that in the next general election it is possible that all current women Liberal Democrat MPs will lose their seats. Wake up and read that again. It is possible that after the next general election, there will be 100% male Lib Dem MPs, and 0% female Lib Dem MPs. All men, no women. Not even one woman. Not one.

Those of you who have been living in a crater on the moon since 1905 will wonder why this matters. I’ll tell you one reason why. It matters that the Lib Dems do not lose their women MPs, just as it matters that Labour and the Conservatives continue to push for increased women’s representation in their still under-representative parties, because representative voices in government are the only way to representative policy for people.

Its easy to see how this might play out. To take just the first example that springs to mind, the identity of a fundamentalist Catholic is totally at odds with the identity of a woman who believes in her right to not have other people tell her what to do with her body. One only needs to look at certain parts of the USA, or Ireland, to see that a female and feminist counterbalancing voice in its own interest(s) is required.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

WillKat wedding trumped: Murphy shocks Alexander to take league lead

29/04/2011, 07:35:23 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Royal wedding? What royal wedding? The big news today is that the shadow cabinet work-rate league has a new leader. For the first time since this shadow cabinet was formed, Douglas Alexander has been knocked-off top spot.

The new leader is Jim Murphy who has sustained an amazing work-rate to surge past Alexander.

In a month with limited Parliamentary activity because of recess, Murphy still managed to land yet another urgent question – the third in seven weeks. And outside of Parliament, on the media front, while Alexander posted a respectable two releases, Murphy churned out nine.

It’s not clear where William and Kate’s personal allegiances lie in this defining contest but these dramatic developments are likely to be the talk of the wedding banquet.

It is understood that royal insiders had been concerned for weeks that Murphy moving into the lead would knock the wedding off the nation’s front pages and captivate the public’s attention. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Friday News Review

29/04/2011, 07:15:44 AM

Last roll of the dice for Labour in Scotland

Ed Miliband, Labour leader, has warned that Britain is heading for “disaster” if Alex Salmond’s nationalists continue their charge towards victory in next week’s elections to the Scottish parliament. Mr Miliband has watched in dismay as Labour’s apparently impregnable poll lead in Scotland has evaporated. He told the Financial Times the SNP would use a victory in Holyrood to press for Scottish independence, threatening the union and distracting political energy from the need to revive Scotland’s economy. “If Alex Salmond were to win a second term, he has said it would give him moral authority in relation to independence,” said Mr Miliband. “I think that would be a disaster for Scotland; I think it would be a disaster for the United Kingdom.” Mr Salmond has run a textbook presidential campaign to overhaul his party’s double-digit poll deficit of just a few months ago: opinion surveys now suggest he is on course for a second term as first minister. – the FT

Despite the SNP appearing to be on track for a comfortable victory in the polls, Miliband described the Labour effort as a ‘good campaign’ that had focused on the important issues. ‘Do you want a government in Scotland that is fighting on the issues that matter to you? Or do you want a government in Scotland led by Alex Salmond, an SNP government, which is going to be distracted by the issue of independence?’ he asked. The leader went on to note the elections in Holywood are vital not only in Scotland but for the whole of the UK. Miliband said it is not too late for Scottish voters to back Labour and instigate change in the country. A victory for his party, he asserted, would be a statement that people are unhappy with the direction taken by the Westminster government. – Metro

“They put the socialism in, they take the sense of humour out”

The Prime Minister was accused of sexism by Labour after his Commons put-down to Angela Eagle at Prime Minister’s Questions. Mimicking a catchphrase used by Michael Winner, the film director, on a television insurance advertisement, he repeatedly told her to “calm down, dear”, prompting calls for him to apologise. But yesterday he brushed off the row and made light of the remarks. He said: “I don’t know what it is about some people on the Left. It seems that when they put the socialism in, they take the sense of humour out. “I got home last night and my wife said to me: ‘What sort of day did you have, dear?’ And I told her I was attacked by Harriet Harman [Labour's deputy leader] and defended by Michael Winner, and she said: ‘What on earth were you up to?”‘ – the Telegraph

The Stoate strikes back

Howard Stoate, the former Labour MP who left parliament to focus on his work as a GP, has attacked David Cameron for quoting him “out of context” on the government’s health bill. The comments triggered heated exchanges during which Cameron told a female shadow cabinet member to “calm down, dear”. Stoate, the former MP for Dartford, writes in the Guardian that doctors do not “glibly accept every aspect of the health bill; it clearly has many inherent problems”. He says Cameron “should stop using the health service as a political football and allow GPs to get on with the job of improving health services”. “I [had] said many GPs were enthusiastic about the chance to help shape services for patients,” he writes. “I was referring to GPs in my own borough of Bexley, south London, and qualified this by saying GPs in the borough had a head start, building on their experience of commissioning over the last four years. Taken out of context, and interspersed with condescending comments to backbench MPs, Cameron’s quote is entirely misleading.” – the Guardian

Tory ‘No’ plotters have back up plan

Secret moves are planned by senior Conservatives to overturn the result of next week’s referendum on electoral reform if the country votes to scrap the first-past-the-post system… Under the plan, supporters of first-past-the-post would approach the Commons business committee of MPs, which has the power to set aside time for issues concerning backbenchers. Although recent polls show the No campaign in a comfortable lead, large numbers of voters still appear not to have made up their minds how – or whether – to vote. The tactic of using the business committee to force a Commons division was successful in overturning moves to give the vote to prisoners. A senior Conservative MP said last night: “Suppose there was a tiny majority in favour of AV, but only 20 per cent of the country took part in the referendum; people on our side would find it hard to accept. There would be contact with the business committee.” He suggested a turn-out of 50 per cent should be required to give legitimacy to a Yes vote – a hurdle that could be impossibly high to clear. – the Independent

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Ma’am, show we poor lefties you care

28/04/2011, 09:48:50 AM

by Kevin Meagher

WELL that’s gratitude for you.

The news that both our former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have been missed off the guest-list for Wills and Kate’s nuptials, while Conservatives John Major and Margaret Thatcher are included, takes the biscuit.

It seems Tone and Gordo (unlike Thatcher and Major) are not Knights of the Garter and as such get bumped from the official invite list. If it was a full state occasion then they would get the nod. But it isn’t (apparently), so they don’t.

After that little favour we did the Royals 14 years ago, you would think they could show a bit more appreciation.

If you recall, it was a bit more than lending them a lawnmower of feeding the cat while they went on holiday. Our Tony saved the Monarchy from the car crash of their reaction to the car crash that killed Diana.

The royals’ dismal, off-key response to the tragic death of Princess Di in 1997 whipped up more public vituperation against the Monarchy than anything we have seen since the ghastly Edward VIII ran off with Wallis Simpson back in the days of black and white newsreel.

But how quickly they forget. Now they are on the up with a popular royal wedding (involving the only consistently popular member of the clan) all we get is a right royal “stuff off”. And not just to one Labour ex-Prime Minister, but two.

The first may well have been carelessness, a second is a definite snub. Ok, spouses would need to go as well so that takes up four seats. And Westminster Abbey can be a bit pokey, but when the place is going to be full of dodgy geezers (“bums” in the Daily Mail’s diplomaticspeak) then squeezing in a couple of former prime ministers is not a big ask; especially as Conservative former PMs are invited.

Blimey, even the Mail’s Stephen Glover is incensed at the effrontery of it. Quite right. 1,900 people are invited including, as Glover puts it: “some pretty unsavoury foreign leaders, as well as some rackety private individuals”. It would be equally appalling if the boot had been on the other foot and Maggie and Major had been left off.

Please. If they can find room for ‘film-maker’ Guy Ritchie then I hate to suggest it, but the bar is set pretty low. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Thursday News Review

28/04/2011, 07:00:02 AM

Economy “stagnating, at best”

Superficially respectable growth figures disguise an economy that is stagnating, at best, or even contracting again, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics. Although the economy formally grew by 0.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, in line with expectations, this was widely regarded by analysts as confirmation that the underlying recovery is fragile at best, and that the economy has escaped a relapse into a “double-dip” recession only by the narrowest of margins. The figure was also the final confirmation most City observers needed to rule out an interest rate rise by the Bank of England next month. The betting now is on an increase in the Bank Rate in August or as late as November. And growth could yet slow further: the bulk of the Government’s programme of fiscal tightening has only just begun to kick in, while inflation continues to erode the spending power and confidence of families. Firms are also showing caution over investment plans. – the Independent

Outrage over Syria invite

OUTRAGED MPs hit out last night over Syria’s ambassador to Britain STILL being on the wedding guest list. Dr Sami Khiyami’s invitation has not been revoked despite his country slaughtering hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in recent weeks. Labour MP Denis MacShane said it “bordered on the grotesque”. And Shadow Defence minister Kevan Jones warned of a “horrific spectacle” of the diplomat being at the Abbey while there was killing on the streets of Syria. St James’s Palace said the invitation had not been rescinded but a source added: “A final decision will be taken in the next 24 hours.” Libya’s invite was cancelled over its regime killing peaceful protesters. – the Mirror

#winnergate

David Cameron has been accused by Labour of “patronising, sexist, insulting and un–prime ministerial” behaviour after he told a shadow minister to “calm down, dear” in the Commons. Downing Street was forced to issue a “no offence intended” response after Ed Miliband’s office began a round of Labour denunciations of Mr Cameron, who made the comments during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. Michael Winner, the film director and food critic who coined the catchphrase in a car insurance advertising campaign, said that he was flattered that the Prime Minister had mimicked him, and accused Labour of being “politically correct lunatics”. Mr Cameron was defending the Coalition’s health reforms when he rounded on Angela Eagle, a shadow Treasury minister. She had told him that he had got his facts wrong about Howard Stoate, a former Labour MP and GP who has backed the NHS plans. – the Telegraph

The prime minister regularly plays fast and loose with the facts at prime minister’s questions and he got it wrong again yesterday when he claimed that ex Labour MP Howard Stoat had lost his Dartford seat at the general election. It was when I pointed out that he had actually retired, not been beaten, that the prime minister decided to single me out for the Michael Winner treatment by using a turn of phrase no modern man would use to a woman. He was patronising but I have been condescended to by far better people than the prime minister in my time and I can handle it. This wasn’t the first time his mask has slipped when he’s under pressure in the chamber. It reveals a side of him that I suspect his minders would prefer we did not see, because it is so at odds with his carefully constructed “cuddly Cameron” image. It reminds me of none other than Flashman, the appalling bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Flashman’s increasingly frequent appearances at Westminster are now remarked upon even by MPs in his own party. I thought it was instructive that George Osborne thought the remark hilarious, while Nick Clegg sat stony-faced through the whole thing. – Angela Eagle, the Guardian

George joins in

Shelagh Fogarty co-hosts BBC Radio 5 Live’s breakfast show tomorrow for the last time before moving to the station’s lunchtime programme. What will her colleagues get her as a leaving gift? Some chocolates? A bunch of flowers? A fancy card? Uhm, try a message from the Chancellor about erotic dreams. Yep, that’s right. Fogarty revealed in September last year that she had a somewhat intimate dream about George Osborne and, to mark her goodbye, he has given his response. “I just wanted to say it’s sad to be losing you from the breakfast programme but I know you’ll do a great job on the lunchtime programme. It does give you, of course, more hours sleep everyday. More hours for those dreams you’ve been having. And so I’m sure you’ll have sweet dreams and I look forward to being interviewed by you on your lunchtime programme.” – Politics Home

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

A little bit of information can make a big difference

27/04/2011, 02:01:40 PM

by Mark Cooper

The easter break and the royal wedding weekend will be a great opportunity for people to socialise at their local pub up and down the country.

When you plan a social occasion what do you think about? Is it what to wear,  or if you’ll have a drink or two at home before you go out? I think: “can I get to the loo”?

Why? The answer is simple: I am disabled. Going out for me isn’t just a quick email or text “would I like to go for a drink after work”, it’s a military operation.

I have experienced many nights out which have been ruined for me because I have been unable to find an accessible loo. After one night out I had had enough of this problem. I was out in Edinburgh enjoying a post-campaign drink with friends in a pub, which we thought was accessible. But it turned out it did not have a disabled toilet. So I was forced to leave my friends, find another pub with an accessible toilet, then return to my friends.

After this experience, Barred was born, with the simple aim of trying to find out where the pubs are in Edinburgh with disabled access. I started a Facebook group, which soon had hundreds of members all with similar experiences to my own. The local campaign succeeded. Spurred on by the response I decided to try and make it Scotland wide.

The campaign was backed by disability organisation capability Scotland and with their support and the support of Lord Foulkes, the former Labour MSP for the Lothians, secured an amendment to the Scottish criminal justice and licensing act last July. The amendment means licensees must show how their pub can be accessed by disabled customers, when applying for a license. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Cameron: I’m loving your election campaign, Labour

27/04/2011, 07:00:39 AM

by Rob Marchant

In the Labour party, we’re very excited about AV. In Westminster, of course, it’s easily crowding out debate on the (not unimportant) Scotland, Wales, Northern Irish and English local elections.

Ooh, the Yeses. The Noes. It’s all that analytical, wonkish, procedural stuff that we love to debate. We seem to have spent the last month or so monopolising the media and the Labour blogosphere with this one issue. To be fair, there are some sensible arguments on both sides, such as this one from Anthony Painter, a fine analytical piece from normblog and a lot of lowest-common-denominator ones. Also there is the delightful “meh2AV” campaign for those who, like Uncut’s own Mike Dugher, feel that it’s been a complete waste of time.

Any change to the constitution is important. Fair enough. And we got the referendum that we, after all, asked for (although, as various people recently observed, it is remarkable how we have gone from all supporting AV as a manifesto commitment, to split down the middle in less than a year). And the referendum is now upon us, so we have to make up our minds, and vote or campaign according to what we decide. So far, so good.

A note of caution: outside political circles and the metropolitan media, this issue is hardly dominating people’s thoughts. They have more mundane concerns: getting their way through the month with a sluggish economy and some nasty public service cuts.

But we Labour folk, on the other hand, are working ourselves up into a frenzy. We’re so excited about it that we’re happily knocking chunks out of each other. Every other article is making personal attacks on figures from the other campaign. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon