34 Labour PPCs have signed a letter to Gordon Brown, calling for a referendum on electoral reform to be held on the day of the general election.
On the day of the Queen’s Speech, the candidates’ letter states:
“we do not believe that Labour will benefit at the next general election unless voters see that we are prepared to actually deliver a chance of real change.”
The letter was welcomed by Vote for a Change Director, Willie Sullivan who said:
“There is clearly a reform dividend for any party that is ready to deliver real change that will both provide fairness and deal with the mess surrounding MPs expenses. The way to do this is to change the way MPs get their jobs. Politicians need to be serious about changing their politics.”
We welcome your conference announcement that the next Labour manifesto would contain a commitment to hold a referendum on electoral reform marks a welcome recognition that the people must be given a say in the way their representatives are elected.
However, while this offer is made in good faith, we do not believe that Labour will benefit at the next general election unless voters see that we are prepared to actually deliver a chance of real change. Given the depth of public cynicism towards politicians then – without demonstrable proof of intent – it will be regarded as just another paper promise.
A referendum on polling day on a system that delivers real voter choice would see hundreds of Liberal Democrats switching to Labour, hundreds more stay-at-home Labour supporters coming out to vote for the government and every Tory opponent on the back foot trying to explain why the failed old system is worth keeping and why Cameron wouldn’t give the people a say. So we just need to switch the date and fulfill our 1997 manifesto pledge.
The ideal situation for Labour and for British democracy would be to hold the referendum on the same day as the next election. A government bill could facilitate this and there is also the opportunity to amend the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to legislate for a future date for the referendum. Subject to detail, we will be supporting such an amendment.
Beverley and Holderness
Camborne and Redruth
Chelsea and Fulham
Chingford and Woodford Green
Cities of London & Westminster
Harwich and North Essex
Hertford & Stortford
Liverpool West Derby
Milton Keynes North
Shrewsbury and Atcham
Sleaford and North Hykeham
Derek Wyatt, the MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey also signed the letter.