Is Tony Blair secretly backing the No2AV cause?

John Rentoul

tbvote 300x225 Is Tony Blair secretly backing the No2AV cause?I do not actually know the answer to this question, posed by Sunder Katwala on the basis of a line in a Benedict Brogan post, so it does not yet qualify as number 517 in my “illuminating“ series.

Katwala does a brilliant job of tracing Blair’s pretended interest in AV Plus, or AV Top-Up, the compromise system of proportional representation designed by Roy Jenkins in 1998, to his disillusion with the Liberal Democrats under Paddy Ashdown’s successors.

He only omits one of my favourite Blair interviews, a disastrous outing on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman on 24 November 1998. Paxman asked him to summarise the Jenkins system in 30 seconds and then asked if it could be easily sold: ‘I think it can be easily sold, yes.’ Lord Jenkins ‘makes a powerful case, but I want to wait and see how the range of constitutional change settles down’.

Blair refused to say he liked it, and as good as admitted what he was up to by saying: ‘Before I commit myself to it I want to see how it settles down.’ He pointed out that Scotland and Wales would have ‘a variation’ of the Jenkins system – ‘we chose that system as a Labour Party for there’. (Previously the line had always been argued that different systems were appropriate for different bodies and functions.)

He ended up sounding ominously like Neil Kinnock in the final week of the 1992 election campaign, when he said he had a view on electoral reform but he wasn’t going to say what it was, to the hoots of a studio audience.

But what does Blair think now? He could well take the conservative view that the existing system is the least of several evils. It would hardly be surprising if the most successful election winner of the democratic era thought that the system that delivered him consecutive majorities of 179, 167 and 66 was rather a good one.

Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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  • StarDasher

    “…why do you insist on trolling around the internet supporting King Blair?”

    One could well ask why you go around doing the exact opposite.

  • AlanGiles

    Well the fact remains Blair isn’t yesterdays man even – now he is the day before yesterday’s man, and his views on anything are really of no interest to anybody (except apparently Rentoul and two of his sycophants on this board JJ and “Blair Supporter”)

  • highlandjock

    Continuing your love affair with Blair, Rentoul? You need a different subject, chum.

  • highlandjock

    …and you need a good psychiatrist.

  • Sarissa336

    Funny, really. Whenever you pick up one of the darkly soiled rocks of Middle East politics, you’ll find Blair on the underside amid the spiders, centipedes and other creepy crawlies desperately scurrying to escape the sunlight…

  • JohnJustice

    JR, I suggest that from now on you shouldn’t bother to write a full post with the name Tony Blair in it. The words “Tony Blair” should be enough, leaving the commenters full scope to rant on about their favourite Blair-hating topic. They rarely keep to the point of your post when Blair is involved, anyway.

  • AlanGiles

    “John Justice”

    Boots licked while you wait

  • BlairSupporter

    @ highlandjock – I suggest you put “Butcher of Baghdad” into a search engine. Satisfied now, bright spark?

  • BlairSupporter

    I suppose your psychaitrist comes recommended? Debriefed your scrambled braincells as to the REAL “Butcher of Baghdad” yet, has he?

  • BlairSupporter

    @ SCH – oh, will we now?

    Find – majority – support position etc?

    I love it when you get into your WE ALL KNOW mode.

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