The AV referendum – where do Greens stand?


So, it is indeed going to be May 5, as I wrote in breaking the news, last week: .

The battle-lines are already being drawn ย– it is clear that there will be big money behind the campaign to stop change, and retain the status quo. Beside the predictable nonsense from these wreckers (cf. ), some of ‘the forces of conservatism’ are also (rightly) pointing out some problems with the government’s plans ย– such as the reduction in seat-numbers, which is liable to be anti-democratic, especially in a country whose population is continuing to rise. But it is important to be clear that, when it actually comes to the referendum, those problems will no longer be relevant. Parliament will decide them one way or another, and the issue that goes to the people to decide on May 5 is simply whether to stick with FPTP or to change to AV. That therefore is the main issue that ought to pre-occupy those concerned with the state of democracy in our kingdom, and with starting to take back Parliament. That is the question on which each of us has to decide: Which side are you on.

There are those who take themselves to be radicals who oppose AV on the grounds of purism: on the grounds that it is not PR. One such is Derek Wall, former Male Principal Speaker of the Green Party: .

So, in terms of Parties: on the No side are the Conservative Party and Labour tribalists, and maybe some Greens (if the opposition to AV of Derek et al continues). On the Yes side are the Liberal Democrats, Labour pluralists (including Compass, the Millibands and Diane Abbott) and certainly some Greens (see ).

The Green Party will make its decision on where it stands at our Autumn Conference. We are a small Party, but it could be an important decision. For, while the LibDems and Labour lost seats at this General Election, the Green Party entered Westminster for the first time. There is some momentum behind us, and a lot of respect for our Leader, Caroline Lucas MP.

It seems to me that it would be extremely unfortunate if there were to be a group of ‘PR purists’ opposing AV on the grounds that it isn’t radical enough. The grave danger is that, by dissing AV, such people will give respectable ‘cover’ to those implacably opposed to any reform of our electoral system. Those who will benefit from such ‘purism’ will be Labour tribalists represented by the likes of Prescott, Burnham and Balls, and (above all) the Tories.

That is why I along with several senior elected Greens will be putting the case at a motion at our September Party Conference for supporting AV in the referendum. AV eliminates the wasted vote argument, it largely eliminates tactical voting, it drastically reduces the number of safe seats. It allows the electorate to express their preferences and thus potentially speeds up the process of Parliamentary change at a time when Parliament desperately needs to be ready to respond rapidly to environmental change. And it is a start. It is a significant step in the right direction.

To stand in the way of it when the referendum comes will only benefit those such as Lord Ashcroft who are going to put their considerable resources behind the campaign to preserve the present system that has served them so wellย…


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AV referendum: Its May 2011

I broke the story earlier today that Clegg plans for the AV referendum to take place next May: . See James MacIntrye taking up the story, here:

UPDATE (Evening): No official announcement/confirmation – looks like the coalition are sticking to announcing the date officially next week (I think they would look bad if they didn’t announce it through Parliament). BUT: After Ross Hawkins, (Beeb Political Correspondent) phoned me earlier to try to establish who my source was, I just saw James Landale (Beeb Political Correspondent) confirm that the BBC believes that the LFF story that I broke above is correct: That the government will announce next week that the referendum will be held on May 5 2011.

UPDATE (Morning of 2nd): The story is now the lead on the BBC, and is spreading all over the media. My story was right, and the coalition may have been forced to bring forward its tacit confirmation of it as a result of my breaking the news. ๐Ÿ™‚

‘Ecologism’, in contrast to the political philosophy of ‘liberalism’

I have been asked to give a few references that may help throw into clearer view how I understand the new ideology of ecologism, in contrast to the dominant ideology of liberalism (the ideology which motivates not only the LibDems, but most Conservatives and most Labour people too, now that socialism is supposedly dead). These links may help, plus of course the books etc referred to within them, for full detail. (Note, you may not be able to view some of the facebook ones, if you aren’t my ‘friend’ on facebook (Advt..  ๐Ÿ˜‰

A gift

Not read my PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE yet? Check out this review, by Marko Zlomislic, which may persuade you to do so:
There are lots of things in Zlomislic’s perceptive review with which I agree, and lots of things which I would take issue with. But I take most of these latter to be ‘Yes, and..’ rather than ‘Yes, but..’ criticisms. In other words, they are things that I would have gone into myself, had my book been twice as long. I accentuated the positive vis a vis Chomsky and Tolkien, for instance – as Zlomislic does, I could easily have accentuated the negative too (and I have done, elsewhere in my writing, vis a vis Chomsky). I am happy to let the reader judge for themselves which of Zlomislic’s points of disagreement with me may point to a genuine problem with what I am saying in the book.
One exception, one thing that Zlomislic says that I will take issue with here: While I have also written much more about Derrida and about forgiveness elsewhere, too, I specifically disagree with Zlomislic’s praise of Derrida on forgiveness. Derrida has written brilliantly about ‘the gift’, but his writings on ‘the forgift’ are not up to scratch. To argue that forgiveness is a gift that one gives to oneself, is, as I have argued, in the end to fail to present the reader with a discussion of forgiveness at all. For forgiveness, if it is to be forgiveness, must be once more a gift that one gives to the other, not merely to oneself. (And that is what makes its status mysterious, and its achievement paradoxical, extraordinary.)
Let me know what you think of my book, and / or of Zlomislic’s reivew. And: If you really like the book, why not buy it and give it to a friend?!…