Tories fear Labour may change vote rules to form 'coalition of chaos'
Tory election planners fear Labour will back bid to axe ‘first-past-the-post’ system next month to form ‘coalition of chaos’ that could lock Conservatives out of power for a generation
- Tories are worried Labour will support plans for proportional representation (PR)
- Scrapping First-Past-The-Post could put the Tories out of power for a generation
- Tory MP Richard Holden said policy was because Keir Starmer ‘could never win’
- PR means that seats in parliament are allocated based on national vote share
The Tories could be locked out of power for a generation under controversial ‘coalition of chaos’ plans expected to be backed by Labour this autumn.
Conservative election planners privately raised fears that Sir Keir Starmer’s party will next month finally approve plans to scrap Britain’s historic first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system and replace it with ‘coalition-friendly’ proportional representation (PR).
This follows the decision by two of Labour’s powerful trade union backers to support electoral reform.
Conservative election planners raised fears that Sir Keir Starmer’s party will next month finally approve plans to scrap Britain’s historic first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system. Pictured: Labour Party leader Keir Starmer looks at the heat pump units on the roof of a housing development in Walthamstow
Last night, Tory MPs warned that the move would be a sop to Sir Keir’s likely Liberal Democrat partners in a weak coalition government.
One, Richard Holden, said: ‘Sir Keir Starmer knows Labour could never win a majority under his lacklustre leadership and Labour’s union paymasters know it too.
‘That’s why they are calling for unity with the Lib Dems to change the rules so that Labour can sneak in, propped up by the Lib Dems and SNP, via the back door.’
Tory MP Richard Holden, said: ‘Sir Keir Starmer knows Labour could never win a majority under his lacklustre leadership and Labour’s union paymasters know it too.
He added: ‘Rather than trying to fiddle with Britain’s democratic system, the public would rather Labour and the unions concentrated on preventing strike action that cripples our public services.’
However, Tory fears over PR will embolden Labour activists who are pushing for their party’s annual conference next month to vote to include a switch to proportional representation in Labour’s next General Election manifesto.
The move follows a similar motion at last year’s conference which only failed to pass after opposition from the unions.
But barely one month later, Unite – Labour’s biggest donor – changed tack and voted to back PR in Westminster elections for the first time in the union’s history.
That was followed this June by another major union, Unison, voting for PR amid claims that its members were sick of Westminster’s ‘distorting FPTP voting system’.
Since then, Andy Burnham – Labour mayor of Greater Manchester and a potential successor to Sir Keir – has called for the party to endorse the controversial voting switch.
Mr Burnham called on Sir Keir to ‘seize the moment’, though denied he was arguing for any form of electoral pact with other parties.
Earlier this summer, the Labour leader himself said he understood how many party members feel very strongly about PR – not least as he joined the party in East Surrey, where ‘every time you vote Labour, the vote doesn’t really count for anything’.
But he pointed to the importance of the ‘link to a constituency’ under the current system in which every MP was elected by and answerable to voters in a specific area.
Andy Burnham (front right) – Labour mayor of Greater Manchester and a potential successor to Sir Keir – has called for the party to endorse the controversial voting switch
Under a draft motion for next month’s conference, the Labour For A New Democracy campaign calls on the next Labour government ‘during its first term in office’ to scrap the ‘rotten electoral system which consistently hands power to a Conservative minority’.
However, Tory critics say it would simply lead to weak coalition governments where, after each Election, political parties would haggle over who to share power with.
Labour sources stressed that a party conference vote would not bind Sir Keir as to what went in Labour’s next manifesto.
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