One thing bothers me about Polly's article, though. She writes:
Make Votes Count, the Electoral Reform Society, Compass, Unlock Democracy and an array of reformers of many kinds are now determined add a referendum to the next election. If not now, the Conservatives will certainly never offer one. Alan Johnson came out again yesterday for PR – reviving Roy Jenkins's electoral plan that Blair shelved. Other Labour voices are breaking out. This will be the real test of each MP's sincerity: will they clean up politics, or just brush the surface mud off the present system with a lick and a promise?The Alan Johnson quote she refers to, by the way, comes from the Independent, where yesterday he said:
I believe that we need to overhaul the political system and that we should complete unfinished business by discussing again the Jenkins review and consulting the British people on proportional representation, which gives greater power to the electorate.Now, lets just stop and think about this for a moment. If what Polly, Mark and I are suggesting is that, to quote Polly,
Seats where parties can run a donkey in a red or blue rosette breed complacency and tempt corruption. Nefarious practices thrive in any dark corners of politics unchecked by scrutiny or competition. Time for a constitutional revolution.... then how does the Jenkins Report help us with this? The system it suggests, AV+, is, I would suggest, every bit as likely to produce safe seats. I'm not the only person to think so, either. It is widely thought to be one of the disadvantages of AV+ in comparison to STV; indeed, it seems likely that this is one of the reasons Jenkins suggested it in the first place - getting MPs to vote for STV would have been like getting turkeys to vote for Christmas.
So a wider movement towards electoral reform is a good thing, don't get me wrong, but can we keep a wary eye on anyone who suggests reviving the Jenkins report is a solution to this current crisis. It isn't. Safe seats must go, as Polly so rightly suggests. I hope, then, that she would argue against AV+ every bit as eloquently as she does against FPTP.