Sunday, 13 November 2011

Labour Backs the Petermander

In an extraordinary move the executive of the Labour Party in Wales has backed Peter Hain's proposal to rig elections to the National Assembly.

Previously National Assembly seats were linked to those to Westminster, with 40 first past the post seats and 20 regional list seats. With Westminster constituencies reduced to 30 the Assembly seats have been decoupled. Rather than freeze for all time the constituency boundaries to the existing 40 there has been an ongoing discussion on how we can organise electoral boundaries in the future.

The simplest method (though not without its pitfalls) is to elect 30 AMs by First Past the Post using the new 30 Westminster constituencies and the rest via regional lists, increasing the number elected in each region to six. This would have the advantage of making the system more representative. It would also have the side effect of reducing Labour's over representation - something that clearly exercises the mind of Peter Hain.

His counter proposal is to abolish the regional lists and elect 2 AMs from each Westminster constituency, thus handing 70% of the seats in the National Assembly to Labour. To say that there are grave doubts about this within the Labour Assembly group would be an understatement. Initially Carwyn Jones rejected such a scheme out of hand. But in a forced show of party unity Labour backed Hain's plan.

Welsh Labour is at one on this issue," said a joint statement from First Minister Carwyn Jones and Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain after the meeting of the Welsh Labour executive.

It said the UK government had "absolutely no mandate" to change the voting system in Wales.

"Any attempt to do so without a clear mandate from the people of Wales would be deeply disrespectful to both them and the Welsh government," they said.

So there we have it - the Assembly Labour Group and the elected leader of the Labour Party in the National Assembly, elected by all Labour members, has to give way to the appointed Labour shadow Secretary of State in the name of party unity.

Once again Labour has proven that its interests come before that of the country, that the Welsh Party is subservient to appointed Westminster placemen. It its time that the people of Wales woke up to that reality and at the next election reduces Labour to a party of opposition, as clearly its incapable of standing up for Wales.

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