Will Labour sabotage AV out of ugly self-interest?

Yesterday I was wondering how local Labour politicians will come down on AV. Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and R’lyeh, immediately answered my question in a new article on Labourlist (which should surely now be called IslingtonLabourList for trading standards purposes). She declares her unambiguous opposition to AV.

The main thrust of her argument is that her constituents are too bestially stupid to understand preferential systems of voting. Never mind that they are able to muddle through for the Mayoral elections, or that the savage Celts somehow manage. Apparently, the poor benighted denizens of Islington aren’t capable of making informed choices, or counting. Doesn’t she even worry that her constituents might, uh, read this and take offence?

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Thornberry is worried that she would have lost under AV in 2005 and 2010. AV helps elect the least unpopular candidate. As she’s unpopular with the majority of her voters, she will probably lose her job.

At the last election, Labour secured 18,407 votes in Islington. The Lib Dems got nearly 3000 more votes than in 2005, but still trailed on 14,838. This leaves only 3570 votes to make up.

8,449 people voted for the Tories. It’s likely that many more of these would fall to the Liberal Democrats than to Labour. Next time, after they’ve seen Lib Dems work with Conservatives in coalition, and after having suffered under a seriously zany Labour council, this is even more likely.

With 54% of the vote when added together, Islington South and Finsbury is really a Coalition Constituency with a Labour MP.

Even in Islington, the Green Party is a minority interest, but there are 700 votes there that would be at least as likely to fall to the Lib Dems as to Labour. Green supporters I spoke to while canvassing in the constituency were impressed by the local Lib Dem council’s environmental record, and wary of Thornberry’s environmental credentials. Thornberry really didn’t help her cause by refusing to vote against airport expansion when she promised she would, and then giving a bizarre tirade on the floor of the House of Commons accusing Greenpeace of having “been manipulated by the Conservatives into being their cheerleaders” and demanding they apologise to their supporters!

I think it’s obvious that anyone in North-East London who cares about political reform and making Parliament more democratic should recognise that Labour is our enemy. Those like Thornberry are scared that they will be kicked out if the voters get the representation they actually want, and will fight to save their own skin. The idea of the voters being in charge petrifies them. Others, like Cllr Richard Watts, are more interested in using the referendum to attack the coalition Government, never mind the cost to democracy.

I can’t wait to see their anti-AV leaflets, though. “No to Alternative Vote: because you proles are just too stupid to understand.”

The article does have one nice Freudian slip from Thorners, though:

“But preferential voting cannot create honest politicians by itself, if it did, then I would be handing in a monster Chartist-style petition for first past the post.”


Thornberry and Brown think you are stupid.

These people think you are stupid.

Published in: on September 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Here’s a thought, something you might like to try-

    If you’re going to argue against a person, argue against what their argument is- not what you would like it to be. Argue against what she actually says.

    Do you think you’ll win the referendum by pretending your opponents have said things that are easy to argue against and ignoring their actual arguments?

    I’ll be voting for AV in the hope that it will lead to PR. There’s nothing worse than seeing people like yourself misrepresent opponents and argue wrong-headedly about something you support.

    If you can’t argue for AV without misrepresenting your opponents, keep it shut and let the grown ups get on with it eh?

  2. Well, she says her constituents are too stupid to understand a common voting system that they have actually already used.

    I think that by assuming mala fides I’m actually giving the poor woman the benefit of the doubt.

  3. Labour will indeed do all they can to make the referendum fail, for no other reason than they dislike the Lib Dems and would do anything, no matter how hypocritical, dishonest or regressive, to hurt the Lib Dems.

  4. @Francis: She quoted evidence showing that AV has fives times as many spoiled ballots than FPTP- so there obviously is a problem. If you’re going to take on an argument, use evidence, use reason, use logic. Suggest a way to fix the problem or question the existence of it using evidence.

    And, of course, address the rest of what she says- the fact that it isn’t proportional, and so on.

    You seem to be trying to your hardest to turn this referendum into Labourand the Tories versus the Lib Dems. You don’t seem to want to win, you just want to be able to blame Labour for losing.

    Pull yourselves together, it can only be won by convincing Labour people of the merits of changing the system- trying to get your anti-Labour digs in early. You’re creating the problem.

  5. *not trying to get your anti-Labour digs in early, that should read.

  6. Well I’ll be out there campaigning against her.

    Although under AV Islington may have gone to the Lib Dems, and over 50% of voters voted for the coalition parties, it does not necessarily make a “Coalition Constituency”. Your argument fails to consider whether Lib Dem voters consider Labour or the Tories (or of course the Greens, Christian Democrats etc.) to be their natural second choice… enter the Social Democrat and the Liberal split.

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