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.

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