Posts Tagged ‘roy jenkins’

Centrists need new ideas and purpose, not a new party

15/12/2015, 11:40:32 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Phil Collins comments in the Times on speculation within Labour of an SDP type breakaway. Those favouring this move believe that, “the volatility of politics makes 2016 a more propitious moment for novelty than 1981.” Collins, who remains a Labour member, is unconvinced. “The only reason to stay (in Labour),” he wrote a few weeks earlier, “is that it (the Corbyn leadership) can’t last.”

“Corbynism for a decade?” asks Stephen Bush in the New Statesman. “It no longer sounds ridiculous”. In the sense that it was until very recently a widely unanticipated outcome, which would leave many, not least the likes of Collins, distraught, it still sounds pretty ridiculous. But what Bush means is clear.

“Many more than the 66 (Labour) MPs who did vote for airstrikes were convinced on the case for extending British bombing against Isis from Iraq into Syria,” reports Bush, “but pulled back due to pressure from their constituency parties”. CLPs, which MPs need to support them if they are to remain so, are increasingly under the grip of Corbynism.

If MPs are prepared to place political self-preservation before voting with their consciences on Isis, there’s probably nothing – no indignity, daftness, or nastiness – that they wouldn’t endure to extend their political careers. If in the dark nights of their souls, they affirm that this makes them happy, we can only wonder about their souls.

They might read how Tom Harris is happier as an ex-MP than he was as an MP. And Harris got out before Corbyn began. You get the sense that he doesn’t envy Ian Murray, Labour’s only Scottish MP.

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They may be an idiotic rabble: but they’re still family – sort of

24/09/2011, 09:00:26 AM

by Kevin Meagher

THE late Roy Jenkins, grand-daddy of “the radical centre” must be turning in his grave. That’s assuming, of course, that the late and never knowingly under-lunched apostle of Lib-Labbery has room to manoeuvre.

His abiding belief was that the schism between socialists and liberals at the start of the twentieth century needlessly gifted decades of political hegemony to the Conservatives. As a former chancellor, his maths were spot-on. The Tories governed for seven decades out of ten. The forces of the centre-left were divided and impotent for two-thirds of the last century.

There are grand theories about why this happened. But here is an altogether simpler explanation. If you turned on your television this week you would have seen them in all their glory. The loons, crackpots and pedants of the Liberal Democrat party. How on earth could we ever work with these people? (more…)

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No to PR, Yes to AV

04/05/2011, 08:07:14 PM

by Tom Watson

When Roy Jenkins recommended a change in the electoral system twelve years ago I helped lead the campaign to defeat it and preserve the first past the post system. I was dead against any form of proportional representation then and I still am now. But whilst I remain as firmly opposed to proportional representation as ever, I have become convinced that our current first past the post system is in need of reform and upgrading. That is why I am supporting the campaign to introduce the alternative vote and will be voting Yes in tomorrow’s referendum.

The main objections I have to proportional representation do not apply to the alternative vote system. One of my main concerns has always been that PR would give the BNP a greater chance of gaining representation at Westminster. But that is even less likely with AV than FPTP. That is why the BNP have come out to say they will be supporting a No vote in the referendum. AV is the anti-extremist system. With AV, no-one can get elected unless most people back them. Therefore the risk of extremist parties being elected by the back door is eliminated.

Another of my traditional objections to PR was that it will lead to unstable government. But hung parliaments are no more likely with AV than with first past the post. As the recent election showed, first past the post has not given Britain any special immunity to hung parliaments. The result at the last election was not an exception. It is the result of long-term changes in our voting patterns here in the UK which means the current voting system can no longer be relied upon to deliver a clear-cut result with a strong and stable single-party system previously the strongest argument for preserving first past the post.

The last of my major objections to PR, and to the hybrid system Roy Jenkins put forward, was that it was too complicated and alien to the way we have always voted. But AV, in contrast, couldn’t be more straightforward. It simply allows you to choose your candidates in order of your preference. It is literally as easy as 1,2,3. For voters, it simply means swapping an X on your ballot paper for a 1,2,3. And if you still want to vote for only one candidate you can.

So the alternative vote doesn’t have the disadvantages I have always associated with PR. But it does offer advantages that I believe will help change the way we do our politics for the better. (more…)

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