Thursday, July 29, 2010

Labour will pay the price for playing politics with reform

Three months ago the British Labour Party supported a change in the UK electoral system.

It did so for a very good reason: the current electoral system does not give the result that people vote for, which is a pretty serious problem if you believe in Democracy.

Now Jack Straw tells us that his party no longer supports changing the electoral system, and will vote against the legislation to offer a referendum to the British people on adopting a (slightly) better system.

Well, Jack Straw used to be a Stalinist, so I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that he opposes a more democratic system, but there are many other Labour supporters who believe that their party should be in favour of political reform.

This piece by Martin Kettle in the The Guardian shows genuine bafflement as to what Labour is doing. His last words: "one is bound to ask whether Labour is any longer a Party of reform at all", are a rather plaintive cry from the heart.

Yet, after the 13 year soap opera of the vanities which were the "Blair-Brown-Mandelson" years and which included many other examples of unprincipled opportunism I am almost surprised that he can even think that they were a "Party of Reform" in the first place.

By opposing electoral reform, Labour merely underlines why they are unfit for office. The voters who genuinely believe in radical, reforming politics will get no more joy from Labour in opposition than they had from Labour in government. They should understand that the Liberal Democrats have been sincere all along in our talk of changing the root of British Politics- including a more civilised discourse- not just electoral reform. This placed us in a difficult position after the 2010 election, when only a coalition headed by David Cameron was viable. However, to his great credit, the Prime Minister has also (so far) dealt with the Liberal Democrats in an honest and open way.

The contrast between the honesty and sincerity of the Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition and the naked and unprincipled opportunism and hypocritical double dealing of the opposition Labour Party is quite spectacular.

I think that many- even on Labour's own side- will find this betrayal a step too far. Labour self evidently serves no purpose except to seek unprincipled power for itself: it has become an ideological vacuum, and I expect that it will eventually pay a bitter price for this shameless hypocrisy.

No comments: