Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Right Deed, but missing the Right Reason?

The Shadow Cabinet has decided to vote against the AV referendum bill. Does this mean that the bill can be defeated?

What comes into my mind is a quote from Thomas Beckett in Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. ‘The last temptation was the greatest treason / To do the right deed for the wrong reason.’

Actually the quote (while a wonderful quote) isn’t quite apposite. The Shadow Cabinet’s thinking is focused on the inclusion of constituency changes - a kind of gerrymandering on Cameron’s behalf. Another concern is the date of the proposed referendum when local and Scottish and Welsh national elections are also being held. These concerns are totally valid - and well argued this morning on R4 by Jack Straw.

However, the AV system itself is not part of their concerns. So if the referendum bill falls by quote is at least useful in part.

If the bill falls it will allow time for a fuller debate on a fairer voting system and one which will allow many of us to express our opposition to AV. An opportunity we haven’t had, so far.

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