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A letter in the Guardian from Sunday, arguing the main reasons why any British progressive, regardless of party politics, must support AV – summary offered here by the Letters From Europe blog.
If you are a centre-lefty like myself, just remember this – the Tories have regularly dominated politics in Britain, despite only being elected with 50% of the popular vote in 1900 and 1931. Every other time, left-wing infighting between Labourites, Liberal Democrats, Greens, and the Left Nationalists of the Celtic nations, have led to the Conservatives benefiting. We can’t let that continue any longer….
via Letters from Europe
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10.15pm: The government has won by 557 votes to 13 – a majority of 544.
via Politics blog + Commons Libya debate – live | Politics | guardian.co.uk.
Now that’s a majority and a half. Clearly it shows widespread support for the intervention in Libya… but we also have to note the real tone of the debate, and it was far from positive. Reading through a few of the comments, it shows that people are uneasy. With a British submarine, alone with American ships, launching missiles at 20 targets on the coast (Gaddafi‘s missile defence system, clearing the way for the pilots), we’ve become involved more than perhaps some MPs expected. The Arab League is also wavering in support, condemning the bombing of civilians – despite the fact that intervening in a near-civil war was always going to result in civilian casualties, especially as Gaddafi’s supporters were, he claimed, willing to be bussed in to key targets to act as human shields. The prospect of assassination of Gaddafi, hinted at by Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox, is outrageous to many – frankly, I find that speaking openly of it is a foolish move. If you want to assassination someone, you don’t bloody tell Fleet Street. At least the Israeli’s have the common sense not to admit it if they do it. Having said that, assassinating Gaddafi is foolish in-and-of-itself. Martyrdom for Gaddafi is not an advantage to anyone – forcing him out may be our best option, but openly killing him. If he does chose to go down with the ship, so be it. Good riddance. But we can’t openly support it, or plan for it. Our legal mandate is to defend civilians, not assassinate politicians.
John Baron (Basildon & Billericay)
Graham Allen (Nottingham North)
Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley)
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)
Barry Gardiner (Brent North)
Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green)
John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington)
Linda Riordan (Halifax)
Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Mike Wood (Batley & Spen)
Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion)
Mark Durkan (Foyle)
Margaret Ritchie (Down South)
Labour’s Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) and Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) acted as tellers for the noes.
An excellent summary of the debate can also be found here :-http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2011/03/unease-in-the-commons-as-mps-debate-libya-action/
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Clearly the Liberal Democrats are finished as a political force – that’s why they just won a by-election in Tunbridge Wells, for its Borough Council in Pembridge.
LD Claire Brown 578 (43.3; +2.7)
Con 460 (34.5; -24.9)
UKIP 296 (22.2; +22.2)
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2010.
This also seems to prove my theory on the recent Burnley by-election, where the Liberal Democrats came sixth – Labour hasn’t had any major bad publicity recently and the Liberal Democrats have lost the anti-governmental protest vote. Also important to note is that Burnley is a traditionally leftist area, whereas Tunbridge would be more centre-right – just look at the candidates. This also seems to make sense with the Paisley by-election we’ve had as well, where Labour took a seat from the SNP, with Lib Dems falling from third to fifth.
Other perspectives might be that UKIP are stealing a substantial amount of the Tory vote, meaning what we lose from Labour in May, we might make up by taking from the Tories. Unfortunately, this means a further shift right-ward for the party, something I can’t be happy with.
Ok, so Labour and the Greens didn’t put any candidates into this election – but still, the Tory-UKIP contest wouldn’t be altered by the presence of the left-wing candidates, and the Lib Dem vote did hold strong, regardless of the lack of Labourites stealing Lib Dem votes.
The Liberal Democrats have suffered, doubtless, which just means that Farron needs to criticise the government more … and we need to wait for Labour to screw up. It’s Labour, they always do.