Monday, 10 May 2010

Short memories

Has everyone forgotten that Lord Jenkins, at Blair's request, chaired a commission on electoral reform and that it reported in September 1998 recommending the AV+ system of voting? Why should the LibDem negotiators now allow Cameron to talk about a future commission when we have already had one that gave a clear recommendation? LibDems should not even contemplate coalition with the Tories without a firm commitment to an early referendum on this proposal. Coalition with Labour is the lesser evil.

Jenkins was one of the biggest political figures of his time, remembered especially as the last great reforming Home Secretary. He abolished the death penalty and birching, decriminalized homosexuality, legalized abortion and ended theatre censorship. He was later an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer. After twice failing to be elected Leader of the Labour Party he became President of the European Commission. In 1981 he was one of the founders of the Social Democrat Party, which later merged with the Liberals to form the "LibDems". He accepted a peerage and was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Yet here we are only twelve years after his commission's report and only seven years after his death, and everyone appears to have forgotten. Strange, because people still seem to remember the miseries of the 1980s; otherwise how can we explain the fact that two thirds of us voted not to have a Tory government?

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