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Diane Abbott MP Hits Out At Flawed Yes Campaign & Leaflets

April 11, 2011

Screenshot of Diane Abbott's Twitter Page

Diane Abbott, the Labour leadership candidate and former This Week star used twitter to criticise the Yes campaign and the Alternative Vote last night. The member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington supported the Alternative Vote during the leadership campaign and is listed in the Labour Yes Campaign endorsers.

Yet her nine tweets about AV are less then supportive. She stated that AV would lead to more representation for the Liberal Democrats but would fail to change the political landscape that the Yes campaign claim:

AV does not have far-reaching effects it’s fans claim. It WILL mean more Lib Dem MPs. That’s the main thing… Under AV 22 more Lib Dem MPs at the last election. A good thing? You be the judge.

She went on to suggest that:

AV was in Labour manifesto. I felt obliged to support it, have stuck to that. But… Labour Party Conference has never actually voted to support AV.

Further on she hit out at the ‘flaws’ of the Yes campaign:

I will actually be voting yes to AV. But I just got my “YES” leaflet through the letterbox. Don’t think much of it… The problem is the YES leaflet does not really explain how AV works. Leaflet is just anti-MP and anti-politics. Sad.

The leaflet in question is presumed to be the controversial Yes campaign leaflet which airbrushed the black poet Benjamin Zephaniah, out of leaflets outside London. He was removed and replaced with Tony Robinson, there were no other differences in the leaflet apart from Benjamin’s removal.

A No to AV spokesman commented;

‘Why are Yes to AV ashamed to have the support of Benjamin Zephaniah in places like Cornwall and Hampshire?

The leaflets which have been delivered across the South and Midlands made no mention of Benjamin. The story which was brushed away by the Yes campaign quickly spread and was eventually reported by over 200 different news organizations. While virally the Yes campaign causing controversy on Twitter, after the official Yes to AV twitter page called users; “sad”, “silly” and “mathematically challenged” and proceeded to accuse one user of spending their time smearing and using innuendo.

Returning to Diane, she was questioned by Yes supporters as to why she was hitting out at the campaign to which she replied that:

…I will be voting Yes to AV. Doesn’t stop me pointing out some flaws in the Yes campaign.

Her last tweet on the topic was:

It is difficult to be inspirational about AV. On balance there is an argument for voting YES. But it is not a cure for cancer!

Ed Miliband appointed Abbott Shadow Health Minister after beating her in the leadership election, there have been rumours of her support for FPTP in the past and was expected by some in the No campaign to back them.

Vote No To AV has uncovered evidence that Diane Abbott is agnostic to electoral reform. After the 2005 General Election, Diane Abbott the then Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs in Parliament wrote a blog called; ‘PR will do nothing to revive politics’ in which she stated:

First-past-the-post (FPTP) stands accused of inducing a near-crisis of democracy. Wasted votes, inflated majorities and foregone conclusions are blamed for disincentivising public participation and undermining the democratic process. The catch-all solution: proportional representation (PR).

However, I maintain that our electoral system is not wholly culpable. Political apathy, the absence of a written constitution, ballot fraud, the erosion of civil liberties and the introduction of compulsory ID cards have all contributed to growing public distrust of politics and democracy. Changing the electoral system would do little to address these more fundamental catalysts of public disengagement… If PR would help reconnect people and politics and boost democracy it is worth considering, however, I remain unconvinced that this is sufficient for invigorating the health of British democracy.

Further more in 2010 during the leadership election she told the New Statesman the she was:

Opposed to proportional representation as it would involve candidates being appointed from the centre and would break the constituency link. Supports the introduction of the Alternative Vote (AV).

She then went on to tell Total Politics (in 2010) that she believed that the:

Alternative voting may not be the ultimate solution but it will certainly be fairer than the system we currently use… It is obvious that the current voting system is unpopular with many people… This is one of the reasons the decision should be taken to a referendum, giving everyone the chance to have their say.

So its obvious you cry, that FPTP has some faults but is not the route cause of the problem, she doesn’t support PR as that has no answer to the problems of FPTP and thus AV must be the answer!… NO

Speaking to Open Democracy (in 2010 as well) regarding PR she stated;

I have an open mind on PR…

So we can therefore concluded… well your guess is as good as mine. But there is a constant theme developing that those who tell us to vote Yes really don’t seem to want AV at all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Pete Rowberry permalink
    May 5, 2011 1:13 AM

    So we are all prepared to give up the chance to improve our voting system just because a bunch of politicians, some of them quite good MPs like Diane, don’t like AV. Vote YES. You know it makes sense.

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