This is easy to fudge. Labour Party did not debate the issue of electoral reform at its Annual Conference 2010. But its Clause V committee agreed to include a commitment to the Alternative Vote (AV) in the party's 2010 General Election manifesto. So that's it. Silence, peasants. It's agreed.
There are far more pressing problems affecting millions of people, like employment prospects, tax hikes, public service cuts. Who in the Labour Party has the time to bother with a trifling electoral reform to flatter the Liberal Democrats, junior partners in the Conservative government?
A couple of days ago between stories for grandchildren and other festive delights, I spotted a twittering by LabourList about how the Labour Party was 'hopelessly divided' over AV. To which I replied:
@LabourList AV let's keep a sense of proportion. Hopelessly divided? Noooo Plenty of time for debate and resolution. Opp for practice. 7:08 PM Dec 29th
AV is not a matter of individual conscience within the understanding of the Party's Rules about policy and party discipline. Or at least I can't think of any such argument to support the case for a 'free vote'. Our elected and unelected representatives in both Houses of Parliament are already taking sides. Though Labour's new leader is currently less conspicuous in the public discussion than previously unless I have missed something in a festive haze.
Among reactions to my tweet
another called for the Leadership to moderate the 'Yes' campaigners:
While @sallybercow thought I was just whistling in the wind:
Researching what has already been written on the subject, I came across a Comment is Free contribution from Denis MacShane making the case for an internal debate six months ago. Personally, I'm agnostic or #meh2AV. Meh = a grunt suggesting am I bovvered? Not about AV itself. But most emphatically about Labour Party policy making.
Apart from isolated cases there is little appetite for debate inside the Party structures. There are too many members who used to spend time on policy only to be ignored. Ed Miliband should be sufficiently concerned to be looking for opportunities to rekindle political discussion. AV is low hanging fruit. I shall be tabling a resolution at my next branch meeting to pluck it, and see how far it gets. As we have no other elections in London this year (by-elections excepted), it may even be an opportunity for public meetings (not at the expense of campaign against the cuts) but to encourage the idea that Labour is a democratic socialist party.
Everyone has a say, and is willing to abide by the majority decision in keeping with our Labour Values. For those who disagreed and find themselves in the minority, there will always be an opportunity to reopen discussion after a reasonable period of time has lapsed.
Leadership on that cannot come too soon.