Clutching at Straws

>> Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gordo lays out his vision for the next Labour government.

Most of it is the typical Labour shopping list (and the Tory critique that it hasn't been costed out does ring true). I am intrigued by the long awaited constitutional / electoral system reform.

Two suggestions stand out. First, he wants to adopt the recall for MPs. I wrote about the sheer lunacy of this back in June; I will temper my reaction somewhat now by observing that it would need to be implemented very carefully for it to work. I still see large problems in tightly balanced parliaments or minority governments.

The second is that he has come out in favor of the alternative vote to elect MPs. This I like. While I would prefer MMP, the AV is a classically British incremental approach to reform: it would retain single member districts, and be less likely to lead to coalition government than MMP. It would also significantly reduce the probability of tactical voting as it increases the incentives for a sincere vote. I hope to find the time to explore the ramifications of this in greater detail, but as this is the first week of the semester at my august institution, I've been hilariously busy. Indeed, as we have undergone our own restructuring over the summer, I find myself temporarily without an office, with my PC packed away in a box somewhere. An advantage of this arrangement is that I am now permanently housed in the Elections Centre, where we have the data and expertise to have a quick chat about how this may change the electoral landscape.

Of course, none of this matters. In a move that surprises nobody, the typically opportunistic Sun has shifted its allegiance from Labour to the Conservatives for the first time since the 1997 election. While Labour have received what appears to be a stable bump as a result of their conference, they are still 11 points down. With the Conservative conference upcoming, expect this gap to widen as the Tories manage to say something tangible for a change. Also interesting is a recent MORI poll that places the Lib Dems in 2nd place, but I suspect that this is an outlier.


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