By Jonathan Isaby
On the day that Ed Miliband is to make a half-hearted attempt to rally support for adopting Alternative Vote in May's referendum, more than 200 Labour MPs and peers have launched Labour No to AV, making the case against changing the voting system.
Three members of the current shadow cabinet have signed up thus far – John Healey, Caroline Flint and Mary Creagh – along with the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Tony Lloyd; the Deputy Speaker of the Commons, Lindsay Hoyle; and a number of well known recent former Cabinet ministers including Hilary (now Baroness) Armstrong, Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears, David Blunkett, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, John (now Lord) Hutton, Lord Irvine of Lairg, Helen (now Baroness) Liddell, John (now Lord) Prescott), John (now Lord) Reid, Ann (now Baroness) Taylor and Paul Murphy.
You can download the full list of supporters by clicking here.
Whilst Miliband will claim that the time is "ripe for change", Labour does not have a formal corporate view on the question and the launch of Labour No to AV demonstrates a considerable strength of feeling against change across the entire spectrum of the Labour Party.
As Shadow Health Secretary John Healey says this morning:
“AV is not a new dawn for democracy. It’s a dreadful system for electing MPs and choosing a Government. AV would hand power to Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems – the kingmakers in any hung Parliament.”
Tony Lloyd, PLP Chairman adds:
“Nick Clegg demanded this AV referendum as a fix to keep his party in Government. The only party to benefit from AV would be the Lib Dems. I believe that voters should keep the right to evict one Government and choose another. We shouldn’t be handing that power to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.”
And former Home Secretary David Blunkett says:
“People’s trust in politicians has been at an all-time low, so what they don’t want is the kind of back-room deals that you’re more likely to get with AV. Above all, we expect to have one vote – one voter, and each vote counts equally.”
There is more at the Labour No to AV website.
John Healey has also written for this morning's Independent, arguing that AV would benefit only the BNP, UKIP and Lib Dems.