Why Gordon Brown wants vote reform
The Mole: Plans for a new electoral system are not an idle distraction – they are deadly serious, explains our Westminster insider
You can tell a party fears it is about to be wiped off the face of the political planet when it starts talking seriously about reforming the voting system for Westminster. Gordon Brown will announce plans in the Commons today to look at a new system to replace the current first-past-the-post general elections.
But if it looks like an attempt to distract attention away from his well-publicised problems - six Cabinet ministers gone and Peter Mandelson, as I reported yesterday, now de facto prime minister - think again.
Voting reform could be the only hope for Labour. He won't have time to get it through for the next general election - especially as he’ll promise a referendum on the subject - but it's the longer term he’s thinking about.
There is a deep fear in Labour ranks that recent voting trends, aided by Scottish and Welsh devolution, could see Labour out of power for decades at best or even, in the worst case scenario, wiped out as a significant force for the foreseeable future.
The party has only ever won two elections without relying on Scottish and Welsh votes, in 1945 and 1997. And now, as the recent local and Euro elections showed, that 'natural' support can no longer be taken for granted. Labour even lost in Wales for the first time in almost a century.
If this trend continues and other parties, such as the SNP in Scotland, become the "natural" parties to vote for in those countries, Labour could be doomed, unless of course, the UK moves to a form of voting for Westminster that gives smaller parties a look-in and limits the chances of a landslide for a single party. ·
Comments are now closed on this article