Battle lines were drawn last night at the launch of the Labour Yes to AV campaign, against conservatives inside and outside the party, reports Dominic Browne.
Ben Bradshaw, who is running the Labour Yes campaign, told Left Foot Forward:
“I don’t think there is any doubt that there is a reasonably straight correlation between age and attitude. Generally younger MPs and younger voters are in favour of the alternative vote.
“There is a natural conservatism that appears with age. I think MPs that grew up in the 1950s and 1960s when we had a two party system are still attached to that system, but that’s not the reality of today’s politics.”
The No to AV campaign is supported by the likes of David Blunkett, John Prescott, and John Reid – all big beasts of the Labour old gaurd.
While acknowledging that a minority on the anti-AV campaign were motivated by a more radical vision of electoral reform – and allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good – speakers, that included Ed Miliband, remarked how the discussion within Labour reflected long-standing differences within the party.
Oona King referred to the ongoing tension within the party between “fixers” and “reformers” having resurfaced in the debate, while Ken Livingstone compared the referendum to the historical battles between elements of Labour that had opposed Kier Hardie and the right of women to vote, James Callaghan and the payment of child benefit directly to mothers, and John Smith and devolution. However, he stopped short of repeating the ‘dinosaurs’ jibe used in other quarters.
The generational divide reflects that in wider society, with younger voters backing electoral reform, and older voters being more sceptical.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.