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Like I said, but nobody listened, PR is on the agenda!

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Paul Mason | 19:08 UK time, Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Last week I blogged on the basis of an authoritative Labour source that the Prime Minister was being lobbied to introduce Proportional Representation and an elected Lords, by senior cabinet colleagues. This was what would keep him from being "finished". The wires are now humming and lo, it has come to pass. It will be announced tomorrow for "consideration". There will have to be a referendum of course and we are now scrambling around for detail. But there you go. Now you know what it was that probably bought off the Labour rebellion.

UPDATE: It's clear the Labour proposal will be for the Alternative Vote system - this is not strictly PR. But the PR genie is out of the bottle.


  • Comment number 1.

    is this the same system that gave us the BNP?

  • Comment number 2.

    Just what they're all calling for in the ale houses of Britain - an elected House of Lords! As though this would improve anyone's lot. What of course it would do is cost a darn sight more than the present set-up. So that's Brown's answer to Britain's financial crisis - spend more money on some esoteric constitutional irrelevance.

  • Comment number 3.

    Well done Paul on your scoop. I told people I knew about your post - I listened!
    Would an Alternative Vote make much of a difference to the electoral map? And can it be pushed through before May?

  • Comment number 4.

    Fits with Alan Johnson coming out on 25 May in The Times calling for a referendum on the day of the election for a choice between Alternative Vote Plus or First Past The Post. I lost count this morning as to how many times David Miliband mentioned half-completed New Labour political reform. Good 'un.

  • Comment number 5.

    how is this related to expenses?

    PR is not something people talk about down the dog and duck

    it's an exercise in distraction and misdirection.

  • Comment number 6.


    As the voters lack maturity, wisdom, philosophy and perceptiveness, while political parties lack virtue, integrity and altruism; their chosen-ones (MPs) being full of ambition, need and delusion, no voting system devised by man will yield viable governance.

    We might as well lower the voting age to zero, and use the 'first off the potty' system. We will STILL get governance obsessed with power, and legacy above honour and humility.

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh, we were listening !

    But just like Nick Robinson being told by Betsan Powys that Wales was turning Blue, we didn't really believe you..

    Sorry !!

  • Comment number 8.

    Great , so to save a unelectable PM or even a unelectable Labour Party (take your pick), they are going to change how votes are counted. A classic elected dictator move I must say.

    And this empowers the people how ?

  • Comment number 9.

    in AV I always vote for one candidate... the one I want to be elected and no other.

    For commentor(sic)1 ...not it is NOT the same system as in the Euro Vote in Britain, but AV was use in Northern Ireland. The Euro vote system is much closer to PR in multiple seat constituencies

    The real problem is that we want to elect a government, a Leader and a legislator scrutioneer of the government (the executive)and at the same time a representative of out moans. Only the USA system tries to do this.

  • Comment number 10.

    That cheeky scamp Nick Robinson appears to have overlooked your scoop as well...

  • Comment number 11.

    RE: 1. bookhimdano

    "is this the same system that gave us the BNP?"

    No. They've been around for many years.

    If you are referring to the two recently elected BNP MEPs then that's the result of a complete collapse in the Labour vote.

  • Comment number 12.

    Scoop !

    "It's not the voters that that decide, but those who count the votes": Stalin.

    No doubt Brown will excel at devising one of his fiendish labyrinthine sytems which will give Labour victory with 20% of the vote whilst denying the BNP any seats with 8% of vote.

    UKIP voters can't even unfold a ballot paper so they should be well scuppered by any new system !

    Will there be a referendum on Lisbon Treaty too ?

  • Comment number 13.

    Last night I could not help agreeing with young Derek Simpson. We have conpanies going to the wall daily, thousands being put out of work every week and all we get is waffle about constitutional change.

  • Comment number 14.

    Another ruse to keep the wheels on the 'New Labour Project'. There seems to be nothing that this PM and his cronies won't do to hang onto power. From debasing the currency and turning the Bank of England into their very own off-balance-sheet SIV to hide colossal debts, promising changes ofstyle etc. etc., its all designed to save their own miserable skins.

  • Comment number 15.

    Who cares about electoral reform? Who cares about electing the House Of Lords? Whats the point of PR as far as the average bloke in the street is concerned? Its just a way for the politicians to sound as if things are happening without them having to spend any money and it also provides some backgroung music until the whole expences row dies down! What obout some real polices folks? Both parties know exactly how much public spending they are going to cut, and what that means for public services, just tell us! Both parties know how much tax is going to rise by, stop shouting at each other and just tell us! Politicians should treat us like grown ups not childeren, is anyone out there fooled by the tactic of denying each others claim and counter claim on spending cuts and tax rises? JUST TELL US!!

  • Comment number 16.


    Anyone who heard Liam Byrne (who comes a close second to Mandy, for open contempt of those who go against him) today, 'justifying the works of Brown to man', will have felt that sickening despair that comes from 'the wrong kind of politician'.

    Electoral reform WITHIN THE LIE will take us nowhere. While Thatcher, Blair and Brown illustrate the cream of Westminster's political ethos, the 'milk' is clearly off - and the 'cow' needs to be killed, burned and buried.

    But - once again - we are witness to the Machiavellian skill of the beneficiaries from the CULTURAL LIE, within which media and politics operate. The voters are actually AWAKE (though nodding already) but will be fed a pap of 'reform' and 'clean-up' - never made aware of THE LIE ITSELF - until they are back to sleep, with a smile of triumph on their lips.

    Britain is inherently corrupt and run ragged by a self-perpetuating system of hypocritical governance. We have a matrix of unsustainable claptrap woven into daily life, and the voters are habituated to it.

    Anyone left functioning, cerebrally, outside the lie, now appears mad or bad. I doubt an internal solution can be found. Might it be that world, nuclear, war - in which island status confers no advantage - could be the ultimate 'clean-up' this disgraceful impostor-state needs?

  • Comment number 17.

    I know blog comments should only tell the author what an idiot he is, but well done to you and Stephanie last night. You both did a good job cutting through an avalanche of spin from both sides to explain a complicated story well. In fact it was a good Newsnight all round, a proper show for grown-ups unlike some of the more febrile offerings in the last year. Is it a coincidence that Gavin was in the chair?
    I've commented in depth over on Stephanie's blog as it's off-topic for this post. There's a few suggestions for your political colleagues there.:-)
    I was out that night, but I assume there wasn't time for you to discuss Ireland's downgrade to AA the other day? Might be a good thing to come back to when the Westminster village idiots have gone on holiday - the cost of borrowing is a crucial element of the sums you were presenting last night, so upsetting S&P slashes billions off the NHS budget. On a completely unrelated note, have you done anything to update on the planned reforms to the ratings agencies that were meant to be a key part of stopping another credit crunch? We don't seem to have heard much on that front lately. :-)))
    Another thing for the dog days might be an update on the strains within the eurozone and the whole Eastern Europe debt situation. I hear Vienna is nice at this time of year....

  • Comment number 18.

    Maybe it is just me, but could it be that GB hates the Tories so much he would rather have PR than a majority Conservative government, which this system would deny them?

    It was telling the other week when Alan johnson (I think ) joked that swine flu managed to do what 50 years of labour had failed to do and closed Eton this perhaps really how they think...many a true word is said in jest..

    Of course it could be that he is more concerned with the good of the nation....

    Hard to believe when Gb is not avers,as seen yesterday to hammering the tories for spending cuts and suggesting labour would...carry on spending !!!

    That was a claer mis-direction on GB's part, he got the economy into this mess and to suggest labour can carry on 'investing' as they are is simply impossible even by thier own figures.

    We are getting used to it now but i really did find that attitude from GB in PMQ yesterday cynical and lamentable. makes it easier to understand how someone like damian Mcbride got a job as his right hand media man.

    Non of this seems to be about the truth and what is in the countries best interest.


  • Comment number 19.

    I was appalled at Gordon Brown's repeated accusations of Tory cuts at PMQ this week. Given the anticipated levels of debt interest and benefit payments in the midst of a deep recession, there is no way Labour will manage to keep up with continued investment in public services. Many things have got to give. If he keeps borrowing at the current rate, at some stage, international investors will stop buying UK government bonds, and what would he propose to do then? He seems so unconcerned with upholding the value of the Pound throughout this economic crisis, which makes me wonder whether he is already musing about joining the Euro as a quick fix for his disastrous management of public finance for ten years.

  • Comment number 20.


    I suspect nobody listened are the economics editor not the political one...are you pushing for a re-shuffle yourself?

    If you want a real scoop why dont you request the expenses for the director general of the BBC and the other top BBC bods for public scrutiny.

    I wonder if we would find any signs of excess in there?

    Surely the public has a right to know? We pay for it all.

    off you go then !

  • Comment number 21.

    No.1. bookhimdano wrote:
    "is this the same system that gave us the BNP?"

    This is exactly the point made by Michael Portillo on the "This Week" programme.

    Andrew Neil talked him down though; so it never got properly discussed.

    PR will inevitably give seats to those at the outer ends of the political spectrum.


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