Caroline Lucas: Ed and David should support more options for AV referendum

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has called on Labour leadership frontrunners David and Ed Miliband to support her amendment to the AV referendum bill on Monday to allow people to choose from a wider range of voting systems.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has called on Labour leadership frontrunners David and Ed Miliband to support her amendment to the AV referendum bill on Monday to allow people to choose from a wider range of voting systems – including the additional member system (as used in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Greater London Assembly) and the single transferable vote (as used in Northern Ireland).

In an article in this week’s New Statesman, published today, Ms Lucas writes:

Tribalists and pluralists have fundamentally different approaches to conceiving power and doing politics, and very different degrees of openness to other political beliefs and traditions.

The tragedy of Labour’s leadership contest is that not one of the candidates – judging by their positions on political reform – is a true pluralist. Not one of them supports a proportional system of voting.

This means that, in the referendum planned for May 2011, we will be offered the “choice” between two flavours of vanilla – first-past-the-post or the Alternative Vote. Real reform is not on the agenda…

As the Labour leadership battle narrows in favour of the Miliband brothers, I challenge them, even at this late stage, to support my amendment, to demonstrate their commitment to both pluralism and democracy.

She says the campaign has been lacking a “credible” [non-Diane] candidate who will prioritise “urgent and ambitious action on global climate change”; who is “committed to tackling inequality”; who “doesn’t rely on conventional political tools and compromises to reach power”; who would “contribute to the diversity of the line-up”; and “who is genuinely committed to pluralism”.

She concludes:

Until Labour moves beyond tribalism, beyond wishing the “extinction” of other political traditions, it remains destined to repeat the mistakes of the past.

At recent Compass conferences, I have discussed the need for a more progressive, pluralist politics, based not on Blair’s suffocating “big tent”, but on a campsite of different parties and movements, sharing common values but maintaining their own identities.

Labour could play an important part in that progressive alliance, but only if it can leave behind its arrogant belief in its own exclusive role. Is there no candidate willing to lead the party in that direction?

• Read Caroline’s article in full here.

28 Responses to “Caroline Lucas: Ed and David should support more options for AV referendum”

  1. manishta sunnia

    RT @leftfootfwd: @CarolineLucas says @Ed_Miliband and @DMiliband should support more options for AV referendum: http://bit.ly/akQmZb

  2. Camden Green Party

    RT @leftfootfwd: @CarolineLucas says @Ed_Miliband and @DMiliband should support more options for AV referendum: http://bit.ly/akQmZb

  3. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: @CarolineLucas says @Ed_Miliband and @DMiliband should support more options for AV referendum: http://bit.ly/akQmZb

  4. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – Although a lot of her article is easy to agree with:

    “Until Labour moves beyond tribalism, beyond wishing the “extinction” of other political traditions, it remains destined to repeat the mistakes of the past”

    Which is what I have been saying forever and no one could disagree when she says:

    “Yet, after 13 years of a Labour government, levels of inequality are higher than before it came to office…”

    Because it is an indisputable fact that the gap between rich and poor has widened under Labour.

    Her ideas on this “progressive alliance” though cannot happen with the Labour Party because it is the least progressive major political party in Britain and with only one seat and some wacky ideas about the environment and Trident it is unlikely that the real UK progressives, the coalition, will entertain her.

    But she is right on voting reform and anyone who genuinely cares about democratic representation should say yes to AV or any other change up to PR.

    The two main parties have had it easy for too long and change should be something anyone who cares about politics should be demanding.

    Go Nick Clegg I say!

  5. Ash

    I’d certainly be interested in hearing a debate on a wider range of voting options.

    I’m on the fence over PR. I’ve yet to hear a genuine knock-down response to the objection that it might actually give *dis*proportionate power to smaller parties. (Imagine a world where the Tories could form a government only if they got UKIP on board…)

    And the present Coalition isn’t doing much to convince me that coalitions are the way forward. It’s the ‘perfect storm’ policy combos that worry me. The Lib Dems want their regressive tax threshold rise; the Tories want their regressive VAT increase; a handshake later and hey presto, you have a double whammy of anti-equality measures that no-one voted for.

    Isn’t this bound to happen if you start swapping out-of-context manifesto commitments?

    Suppose Party A wants to cut spending on prisons and increase spending on drug treatment for offenders, and Party B wants to increase spending on prisons but cut spending on drug treatment for offenders. Then they form a coalition based on a ‘compromise’ solution: Party A gets approval for its policy of cutting spending on prisons, and Party B gets approval for its policy of cutting spending on drug treatment for offenders. Is that a genuine compromise, an example of constructive, cooperative, pluralistic policymaking? No, it’s just the worst of both worlds. That’s pretty much how the present Coalition government looks to me.

  6. Anon E Mouse

    Ash – I agree on your points regarding Party A and Party B bit but also since governments never implement what goes into their manifesto’s anyway (tuition fees, Lisbon Treaty) it doesn’t really matter.

    I also think that lunatic elements in parties can be faced down more easily to make a blander approach with an excuse for doing it. So we get no massive tax cuts from the Tories and keep Trident from the Lib Dem’s.

    It works both ways I feel and on PR if UKIP get a proportion of the votes they should get a corresponding number of seats. And Socialists and BNP and anyone else with legitimately gained votes or else it’s not democratic…

  7. Vanessa Long

    Awesome! The UK's new #Green MP is stirring up a ruckus for fair voting. (via Fair Vote Canada) http://fb.me/IHXifkG3

  8. Ash

    Anon –

    “since governments never implement what goes into their manifesto’s anyway (tuition fees, Lisbon Treaty) it doesn’t really matter.”

    Quoting two (or two hundred) examples of broken manifesto promises doesn’t prove that parties *never* keep them. Very often, in fact, they do (right to buy, minimum wage, new academy schools); and certainly the Coalition agreement seems to have been very much based on haggling over which policies get adopted from which parties’ manifesto.

    “lunatic elements in parties can be faced down more easily to make a blander approach with an excuse for doing it. So we get no massive tax cuts from the Tories and keep Trident from the Lib Dem’s.”

    Sure – that’ll sometimes happen and I guess that’s what we want from coalitions. But it could just as easily go the other way – e.g. in the case of a UKIP-Tory coalition, the lunatic fringe would have the same sort of excuse for abandoning moderate policies.

    “on PR if UKIP get a proportion of the votes they should get a corresponding number of seats. And Socialists and BNP and anyone else with legitimately gained votes or else it’s not democratic…”

    I agree that, in principle, if UKIP (or whoever) get a proportion of the votes, they should exert a corresponding degree of influence in parliament. I’m just not convinced that ‘degree of influence’ is the same thing as ‘number of seats’ – just because smaller parties might be in a position to make substantial demands of larger parties in return for their cooperation either in a coalition government or on particular votes.

    I hasten to add that FPTP plainly doesn’t give parties a degree of influence proportionate to their share of the vote either. I’m just not sure what is the lesser of the various evils on offer, which is why (as I say) I’d be happy to see all the options debated.

  9. Anon E Mouse

    Ash – I tell you what gets me about Labour supporters and please do not think this is an attack on you personally – it isn’t.

    When Labour got in in 1997 they did the big things – the strategies one could say, yet for the last few years, especially since Gordon Brown took over they do not trumpet their successes.

    They spend all their time denying what people know to be true and these are usually tactics, not strategies. Labour declare black to be white but in the grand scheme of things they do not matter.

    So by this I mean the country feels different and it is by design and not accident.

    Who would care if William Hague is gay?

    Who cares if the US President is black? So what.

    Now things weren’t like that before Labour and these are big differences in society for the better – Cameron gets it but Labour MP’s seem to keep going on and on for example about why they were right about the economy.

    The economy will sort itself out so does it really matter?

    In the big picture there is no longer an armed conflict on the island of Ireland – less people will die of lung cancer from the smoking ban – people won’t take pleasure from hunting small mammals in the countryside. Well you get me.

    What drives me nuts is hearing the waffle from the leadership candidates about “inclusion” and “reaching out”…please spare me.

    I could run the Labour Party better than those in charge at the moment and I’m an anti-Labour voter.

    (On your manifesto point I was just saying it is galling when they specifically rule something in or out then do the opposite)

  10. Dani Ahrens

    RT @leftfootfwd: @CarolineLucas says @Ed_Miliband and @DMiliband should support more options for AV referendum: http://bit.ly/akQmZb

  11. Scott Redding

    RT @leftfootfwd @CarolineLucas says @Ed_Miliband and @DMiliband should support more options for AV referendum – http://bit.ly/akQmZb

  12. Andrew Biden

    RT @leftfootfwd: Caroline Lucas: Ed and David should support more options for AV referendum http://bit.ly/cGqykD < I totally agree

  13. robertjessetelf

    …and while I'm on the same subject, may I just THANK Caroline Lucas for all her work thus far as an MP! She's pro-PR: http://bit.ly/akQmZb

  14. Caroline Lucas

    My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  15. Aisha Gani

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  16. Ayse Veli

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  17. .Alasdair

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  18. Mind In Flux

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  19. Ian Andrew Barker

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  20. Peter Edwards

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  21. Patrick Harvie MSP

    RT @CarolineLucas on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman: http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & @leftfootfwd review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb

  22. David Morris

    Caroline Lucas makes some excellent points. I agree that there should have been more voting systems offered in the upcoming referendum, but I wonder if it’s now too late to consider big changes. The choice of AV or FPTP has been in the public consciousness for a while now. Having more options to learn about late on in the game could be problematic.

  23. Will Orr

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  24. Clare Gannaway

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  25. Keith Parkins

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  26. Owen Blacker

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

  27. Therese

    RT @carolinelucas: My thoughts on Labour leadership candidates in New Statesman http://bit.ly/bQiFQn – & thanks @leftfootfwd for review: http://bit.ly/akQmZb.

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