Jonathan Fryer

John Sharkey and Yes2AV at the LibDems English Council

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 27th November, 2010

The Campaign Director of the Yes to Fairer Votes Campaign, John Sharkey — who was recently announced as one of the Liberal Democrats’ new working peers — was a guest speaker today at the meeting in London of the LibDems English Council, the body which looks at English party matters and brings together elected representatives from all the English regions. London is unique as a region in that we do not have any planned elections next year, so the May referendum on switching Britain’s electoral system from First Past the Post to the Alternative Vote will be the main focus of campaigning activity in the capital (while keeping the 2012 GLA/London Mayoral elections in mind). As John Sharkey pointed out, London will be a crucial battleground, not just because there are over five million voters in the capital, but also because of media interest and the fact that there is a substantial body of progressive Labour opinion in London as well as Liberal Democrats. That means that there is much room for cooperation between the LibDems (overwhelmingly in favour of electoral reform) and many reasonable Labour supporters (plus the Greens, of course, and even UKIP; coalitions can sometimes entail strange bedfellows). Yesterday, a lineup of No2AV Labour figures was produced, notably Margaret Beckett, David Blunkett, John Precott and John Reid — a herd of political dynosaurs, basically. Of course, there will be some pro-Reform Tories who need to be brought on board, as well as people who have no firm political alleigance but who believe that Britain’s rotten political system requires a big shake-up. The national Fairer Votes campaign will be organising hustings (many in churches) at which the arguments can be thrashed out. And while it is important that the Yes campaign is not seen to be merely ‘Liberal Democrats and Friends’, the LibDems must be very active in it, locally and regionally, not just in London but nationwide.

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