Labour missed chance for electoral reform under Tony Blair

Former prime minister Tony Blair speaking during the Final Say rally at the Mermaid Theatre

Former prime minister Tony Blair speaking during the Final Say rally at the Mermaid Theatre - Credit: PA

How can we get PR 'done' to reform our electoral system and British politics?

Your letter writers argue forcefully for the need to ‘get PR done’ and they are right. But how do we get it done?

As a fiftysomething, I thought we were going to ‘break the mould’ in 1983 only to see my hopes dashed in the public’s sense of patriotism following the Falklands War and the iniquities of FPTP. Sixteen years of Tory government later there was a real sense of optimism for change – the Labour Party had committed to a referendum on electoral reform and set up the Jenkins Commission, which made the recommendation for AV+, only for this to be effectively sidelined.

Another 13 years and another chance – for all the criticism that the Lib Dems come under for the coalition, it did at least allow us to get to the point of having a referendum, albeit for AV rather than the more preferable AV+. While early polling suggested that the public were in favour of a change, sadly the Labour Party took no official position and David Cameron called it “undemocratic, obscure, unfair and crazy” – I wonder why?

The Blair government is rightly criticised for the Iraq War, but I think its failure to see through on the recommendations of the Jenkins Commission and to back electoral reform when it had the chance has probably done more harm to this country.
Nick Roberts, Selly Oak, Birmingham

Well said Jim Trimmer, Christine Seymour and Geoffrey Collett (Letters, TNE #230). Proportional representation for Westminster elections is long overdue and Brexit would probably never have happened if we’d had PR.

It was only by winning a (slender) overall majority under First Past the Post in 2015 that the Tories were able to hold a referendum entirely on their own terms.


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FPTP may well also have contributed to voters in safe seats feeling “left behind” by politicians from mainstream parties who thought they could take their voters for granted.

Defenders of FPTP often claim that PR would make it easier for far right parties to win seats, but they ignore the fact that PR could help to tackle the root causes of people voting for such candidates because they feel ignored by the larger parties.
Alan Yearsley
Sheffield

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