Friday, 1 April 2011

That explains it...

My MP does not like the Alternative Vote. In fact she has made "the case for 'first past the post'". Emily Thornberry, the MP for Islington South and Finsbury has chosen to go against her party.

A study reported on recently by the Evening Standard states that under AV I would have to write my letters of complaint to a Ms. Bridget Fox, rather than Ms. Thornberry. This is why my MP dislikes AV: she would have lost her seat.

The British Election Study showed that the LibDems would have been able to choose between a majority coalition with either Labour, or the Conservatives. In fact the Standard seems to have been a bit late with this story: here it is from the Grauniad in July 2010. Maybe it has come back from the dead in time for the referendum... Beware more zombie stories (I expect this idea to come back to haunt London's commuters)!

Back to Emily Thornberry.

I was at an AV debate this week, where, in as many words, Margaret Beckett stated that MPs are selfish. Her example was that MPs with large majorities would not give a few voters to a neighbour in a boundary change to ensure that their party would win in both constituency. They think of themselves over their party.

Ms. Thornberry is doing the same. As things stand a referendum on AV is bad for Labour. If it passes they may will loose seats, and it will put some old party-members' backs' up. If the public votes "No" then Ed Milliband will look a bit of an idiot for putting the Labour party behind AV.

My MP may well dislike AV for a number of other reasons. But as far as arguments go “it’s unduly complicated, it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary – and I think it’s important to have a direct relationship with your constituents” doesn't really cut it. It is simple, reasonably cheap and the referendum is there to find out whether it is necessary.

Personally I want a "Yes" vote. However my MP arguing in favour of a "No" vote is not just bad because I disagree with her, but because she is damaging her party in the process, and being frankly, selfish.

Ms. Thornberry's selfishness may well be unfounded. The study took data from post election surveys, from an election fought under first-past-the-post. I reckon that elections fought under AV will be fought differently, and that opinions taken after an FPTP election campaign are probably not transferable.

My MP's selfish fears about AV may well be unfounded, but it is unlikely she would jump the "No" ship at this stage. I just hope her actions don't scupper the Labour ship.

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