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375 Labour Mayors and Councillors Say No to AV

April 8, 2011

Labour No To AV Campaign Logo

In today’s Guardian, the Labour NO to AV campaign announce the names of 375 Labour Party councillors from across Britain who will be voting ‘NO’ to the Alternative Vote in the referendum on 5 May.

Joan Ryan, Director of Labour NO to AV and former Vice Chair of the Labour Party, said:

Labour Party councillors, members and supporters have a free vote in this referendum. Today 375 Labour councillors who will be fighting the Conservatives and Lib Dems at the local elections in May have appealed to everyone voting for the Labour Party also to reject the unfair and expensive Alternative Vote. This is an overwhelming show of support from Labour councillors from every corner of Britain. On May 5, we urge Labour members and supporters to Vote Labour and Vote NO.

Among the many councillors pledging their support to the No campaign are;  The Mayors of Brent, Islington and Barnsley and the Leaders of 23 Councils/Labour Groups. Councillor Stephen Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, said:

Thursday 5 May is a hugely important date for the Labour Party. With the support of millions of people around the country, we want to see hundreds of new and returning Labour councillors elected to represent the residents of councils all over Britain. But we must not ignore the threat to our democracy and the principle of One Person, One Vote that is posed by the Alternative Vote system. That’s why on 5 May I will be urging people to Vote Labour and Vote NO to AV.

Recently over 200 MP’s and Lords from the Parliamentary Labour Party including senior figures such as Shadow Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton MP & Shadow Exchequer Secretary, David Hanson MP, declared they would support a No vote on May 5th.

This combined with the support of Labour heavy weights such as John Prescott, David Blunkett, Margaret Beckett, John Reid and Lord Falconer shows that Labour is strongly committed to a No vote. This was reflected in the LabourList; State of the Party which showed a 2 point lead in the crucial Labour vote for the No campaign (42%/40%).

Full List of Labour Councillors saying No:

Cllr Ann Marie John, OBE, Leader of Brent Council 

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Deputy Leader of Brent Borough Council

Cllr Harbhajan Singh, Mayor of Brent

Cllr Aslam Choudry, Deputy Mayor of Brent

Cllr Joe Anderson, Leader of Liverpool City Council

Cllr Marie Rimmer, Leader of St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Barry Grunewald, Deputy Leader of St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Sharon Taylor, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council

Cllr John Gardner, Deputy Leader of Stevenage Borough Council

Cllr Leon McGuire, St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Drew Gale, Preston City Council

Cllr Ken Keith, Knowsley Borough Council

Cllr Peter Dowd, Sefton Borough Council

Cllr Ramesh Patel, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Margaret Libberton, East Lothian

Cllr Eddie McAvoy, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Jackie Burns, South Lanarkshire

Councillor Jim Docherty, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Danny Meikle, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Alex McInnes, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Pat Watters, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Andy Carmichael, South Lanarkshire

Cllr John Cairney, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Jean McKeown, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Mary McNeill, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Davie McLachlan, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Graham Scott, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Mary Smith, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Jim Malloy, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Pam Clearie, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Russell Clearie, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Gerry Convery, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Hugh Dunsmuir, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Allan Falconer, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Jim Handibode, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Maureen Devlin, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Eileen Logan, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Alice Mitchell, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Joe Lowe, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Eileen Logan, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Denis McKenna, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Christopher Thompson, South Lanarkshire

Cllr John McNamee, South Lanarkshire

Cllr Sultan Ali, Rochdale Borough Council

Cllr Marie Ashton-Armstrong, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Tom O’Callaghan, Manchester City Council

Cllr Mary Murphy, Manchester City Council

Cllr Mary Wat, Manchester City Council

Cllr Anna Trotman, Manchester City Council

Cllr Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council

Cllr Mick Loman, Manchester City Council

Cllr Ravnawaz Akbar, Manchester City Council

Cllr Jacqueline Beswick, Rochdale Borough Council

Cllr Ruth Ling, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr Florence Nosegbe, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr Marcia Cameron, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr Ed Davie, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr Keith Bowman, Bolsover District Council

Cllr Mary McNeill, South Lanarkshire SUA

Cllr David Cook, Newcastle City Council

Cllr Bill Stephenson, Harrow Borough Council

Cllr Dave Wood, Newcastle City Council

Cllr Raphael Andrews, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Ruth Ling, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr Wayne Lawlor, Croydon  Borough Council

Cllr Roger Robinson, Camden Borough Council

Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council

Cllr Margaret Alexander, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cllr Lesley Jones, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Abdi Aden, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Ruth Moher, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Helga Gladbaum, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Ketan Sheth, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Sheila Peacock, Haringey Borough Council

Cllr Isodors Diakides, Haringey Borough Council

Cllr Terry Paul, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Pat Clouder, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Pat Ryan, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Jane Avis, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Humaun Kabir, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Karen Jewett, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Louisa Woodley, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Tony Newman, Leader of Croydon

Cllr Maggie Mansell, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Stuart Collins, Croydon Borough Council

Cllr Merik Apak, Camden Borough Council

Cllr Unmesh Desai, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Ellie Robinson, Newham Borough Council

Cllr John Muldoon, Lewisham Borough Council
Cllr Charlene McLean, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Carole Williams, Hackney Borough Council

Cllr Jim Mallory, Lewisham Borough Council

Cllr Alan Laing, Hackney Borough Council

Cllr Jim Mackechnie, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Navin Shah, Member of London Assembly for Brent & Harrow

Cllr Alev Cazimoglu, Enfield Borough Council

Cllr Shafique Choudhary, Brent Borough Council;

Cllr Colum Moloney, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Mary Daly, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Jean Hossain, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Margaret McLennan, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Peter Slack, Debyshire Dales District Council

Cllr Gerry Harper, Leeds City Council

Cllr Judith Blake, Deputy Leader Leeds City Council

Cllr Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Gary Doolan, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Richard Watts, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Leonie Cooper, Wandsworth Borough Council

Cllr Jim Battle, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council

Cllr Colin Lambert, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council

Cllr Daalat Ali, Rochdale Borough Council

Cllr Lincoln Beswick, MBE, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Cameron Geddes, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Mark Bradshaw, Deputy Leader of the Opposition,  Bristol City Council

Cllr Nilgun Canver, Haringey Borough Council

Cllr Nana Asante, Harrow Borough Council

Cllr Ed Turner, Oxford City Council

Cllr Scott Seamons, Oxford City Council

Cllr Bill Turner, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Cllr Naheed Asghar, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Geraldine Reardon, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Asim Mahmood, Waltham Forest Borough Council
Cllr Haroon Khan, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Angie Bean, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Peter Barnett, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Marlene Quinn, St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Pat Martinez-Williams, St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Joe De’Asha, St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Ken Wyatt, Rotherham Borough Councuil

Cllr Mohammed Khan, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Cllr Bhagwanji Chohan, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Judith Beckman, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Bryan Charlton, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Benjamin Ogunro, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Kana Naheerathan, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Carole-Ann Gill, St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Jim Moher, Brent Borough Council

Cllr John Legrys, Leader of the Labour Group, North West Leicestershire District Council

Cllr Stuart Brittain, Chesterfield Borough Council

Cllr Keith Roberts, St Helens Borough Council

Cllr Jeff Fletcher, St Helens Borough Council

Cllr James Powney, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Sandra Kabir, Brent Borough Council

Cllr George Crane, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, Brent Borough Councikl

Cllr Michael Adeyeye , Brent Borough Council

Cllr Joyce Bacchus, MBE, Brent Borough Counci

Cllr Maggie McLennan, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Bobby Thomas, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Mary Griffin, Sandwell Borough Council

Cllr Peter Hughes, Sandwell Borough Council

Cllr Ian Stephen Jones, Sandwell Borough Council

Cllr Yvonne Davies, Sandwell Borough Council

Cllr Matt Cooke, Haringey Borough Council (tbc)

Cllr Joe Goldberg, Haringey Borough Council (tbc)

Cllr Kaushika Amin, Haringey Borough Council (tbc)

Ali Demirci, Haringey Borough Council

Cllr Tayo Oladapo, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Martin Prestidge, Sandwell Borough Council

Cllr Robert Gibson, OBE, Stockton on Tees Borough Council

Cllr Chris Tranter, Sandwell Borough Council

Cllr Barbara Price, Sandwell Borough Council
Cllr Robert Price, Sandwell  Borough Council

Cllr Dipu Ahad, Newcastle upon Tyne City Council

Cllr Nick Kemp, Newcastle upon Tyne City Council

Cllr Wally Burgess, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Barbara Sidnell, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Archie Graham, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Sadie Docherty, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Thomas Foster, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Denny Wilson, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Elsie Butler, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Ken Knight, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Mouna Hamitouche, Mayor of Islington

Cllr Mary Arnold, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Elizabeth Gibson, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Russell Roberts, Rhondda, Cynon Taf

Cllr Marion Spall, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Liquat Ali, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Kieran Falconer, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Saima Mahmud, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Colin Aherne, Hammersmith & Fulham Borough Council

Cllr Jayne Aston, Knowsley Borough Council

Cllr Ted Grannell, Knowsley Borough Council

Cllr Jackie Harris, Knowsley Borough Council

Cllr Bill Brennan, Knowsley Borough Council

Cllr Marie Stuart, Knowsley Borough Council

Cllr Tony Brennan,  Knowsley  Borough Council

Cllr Kevin O’Connor, Sunderland City Council 

Cllr John Scott, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Ralph Baldwin, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Dominic Twomey, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Abdul Aziz, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Christine Shattock, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Rob Douglas, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Saima Ashraf, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Laila Butt, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Abdus Salam, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Jim Clee, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Graham Letchford,  Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Barking & Dagenham Borough Council

Cllr Diane Snowdon, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Eric Timmins, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Jill Fletcher, Sunderland City Council

Cllr Harry Harpham, Sheffield City Council

Cllr Gill Furniss, Sheffield City Council

Cllr Joan Barton, Sheffield City Council

Cllr Chris Weldon, Sheffield City Council

Cllr Peter Price, Sheffield City Council

Cllr Terry Fox, Sheffield City Council

Cllr Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield City

Cllr Mike Kelly, Leader of the Labour Group, Wyre Forest District Council

Cllr Henry Cooper, Manchester City Council

Cllr Terry Wheeler, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Dorothy Cassidy, Bury Borough Council

Cllr Geoff  Hammond, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Paul Douglas, Waltham Forest Borough Council

Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr Lorna Campbell, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr John Kazantzis, Lambeth Borough Council

Cllr Nick Bowler, Medway Borough Council

Cllr Stuart Brittain, Chesterfield Borough Council

Cllr Professor Howard Burrell, Stevenage Borough Council

Cllr Ron Manley, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Clive Furness, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Mike Nicholas, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Mukesh Patel, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Salim Patel, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Firoza Nekiwala, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Rohina Rahman, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Jose Alexander, Newham Borough Council

Cllr James Murray, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Caroline Bradley, Birmingham City Council

Cllr Anita Ward, Birmingham City Council

Cllr Richard McLinden, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Alan Dean, Liverpool City Council

Cllr James Noakes, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Stephanie Till, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Roz Gladden, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Wendy Simon, Liverpool City Council
Cllr Brian Dowling, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Louise Baldock, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Borough Council

Cllr Maxi Martin, Merton Borough Council

Cllr Edith McAuley, Merton Borough Council

Cllr Richard Williams, Merton Borough Council

Cllr Agatha Akyigyina, Merton Borough Council

Cllr Martin Rawlinson, Preston City Council

Cllr Eric Milligan, Edinburgh City Council

Cllr Rekha Shah, Harrow Borough Council

Cllr Charlynne Pullen, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Dave Gemmell, Hull City Council

Cllr Sean Chaytor, Hull City Council

Cllr Maureen Bristow, Hull City Council

Cllr Steve Brady, Hull City Council

Cllr Janet Kent, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Pauline Dunlop, Liverpool City Council

Cllr John Prince, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Jilani Chowdhury, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Jean Roger Kaseki, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Rupert Perry, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Mary Rasmussen, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Nadine Fudge, Hull City Council

Cllr John Hewitt, Hull City Council

Cllr Paul Schafer, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Angela Blacklock, Edinburgh City Council

Cllr Mike Rowley, Oxford City Council

Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Ian Corbett, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Jo Corbett, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Andrew Baikie, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Winston Vaughan, Newham Borough Council

Cllr R. A. Clark, Stevenage Borough Council

Cllr Emad Al-Ebadi, Brent Borough Council

Cllr David Sheard, Kirklees Borough Council

Cllr Patricia Harrison, Brent Borough Council

Cllr Scott Seamons, Oxford City Council

Cllr Ed Turner, Oxford City Council

Cllr Roger Stone, Leader of Rotherham Borough Council

Cllrs. Martin Gannon, Gateshead Borough Council

CllrAngela Douglas, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Bernadette Oliphant, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr John Eagle, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Mick McNestry, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Mrs Jean Lee, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Neil Weatherley, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Bob Goldsworthy, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Maureen Goldsworthy, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr  Jack Graham, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Michael Stokes, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Doug Birkinshaw, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Margaret Bruff, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Alan Gardiner, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Jennifer Worton, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Janice Hancock, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Margaret Sheard, Mayor of Barnsley

Cllr Ken Richardson, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Jim Andrews, Deputy Leader of Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Betty Barlow, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr John Clarke, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Charles Wraith, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Steve Houghton, Leader of Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Joe Hayward, Leader of Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Ken Sanderson, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr May Noble, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Dorothy Higginbottom, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Bill Newman, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Graham Kyte, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Pauline Markham, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Penny Lofts, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Jenny Platts, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Len Picken, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Roy Butterwood, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Roy Miller, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr John Parkinson, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Robin Franklin, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Karen Dyson, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Brian Mathers, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Linda Burgess, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Alice Cave, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Sharon Howard, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Kath Mitchell, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Richard Wraith, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Margaret Morgan, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Denise Wilde, Barnsley Borough Council

Cllr Mahroof Hussain, Rotherham Borough Council

Cllr Malcolm Brain, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Pat Ronan, Gateshead Borough Council

Cllr Steve Walker, Hull City Council

Cllr Gerry Leonard, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Hamzala Malik, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Stephen Dorman, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Ellen Hurcombe, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Jean McFadden, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Andy Muir, Glasgow City Council

Cllr George Redmond, Glasgow City Council

Cllr John McKenzie, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Alistair Watson, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Tony Burns, Preston City Council

Cllr Troy Gallagher, Islington Borough Council

Cllr Gill sanders, Oxford City Council

Cllr John Swindells, Preston City Council

Cllr Armarjit Singh, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Paul Sathianesan, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Jonathan Saksera, Preston Borough Council

Cllr Bhikhu Patel, Preston Borough Council

Cllr Bryan Collier, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Joy Laguda, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Mehbood Khan, Leader of Kirklees Borough Council

Cllr Khalil Kazi, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Nirmal Chadha, Newham Borough Council

Cllr Richard Cooper-Holmes, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Linda Curran, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Barry Johnson, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Glyn Jones, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Andrew Bosman, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr David Nevett, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Darren Cooper, Leader of Sandwell Borough Council

Cllr Jane Kidd, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Paul Bissett, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Phil Webster, Hull City Council

Beryl Harrison, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Moira Hood, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Chris McGuinness, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr Mick Jameson, Doncaster Borough Council

Cllr John Warmisham, Salford City Council

Cllr John Prince, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Brian Lucas, Derbyshire County Council

Cllr Angela Cornforth, Greenwich Borough Council

Cllr Steve Curran, Hounslow Borough Council

Cllr Don McGowan, Enfield Borough Council

Cllr Chris Bond, Enfield Borough Council

Cllr Colin Strickland, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Pauline Walton, Liverpool  City Council

Cllr Mark James, Greenwich Borough Council



More Senior Labour MP’s Back NO To AV

April 7, 2011

Labour NO to AV launch outside Parliament

After 200 Labour MPs and Lords, over half of the Parliamentary Labour Party backed the No to AV campaign, you wouldn’t expect to see any further supporters. Labour NO to AV though have announced a further eight Labour Members of Parliament and peers have declared that they will vote being voting ‘no’ to AV on 5 May.

Among them, Rosie Winterton MP, Ed Miliband’s Chief Whip and one of the most powerful figures in the Labour Party in Westminster, told her Doncaster Central constituency party last week that, as a long-standing supporter of the First Past the Post voting system, she would be voting No in the referendum.

As well as this David Hanson MP for Delyn and Shadow Exchequer Secretary, Michael Dugher MP, Louise Ellman MP Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Baroness Brenda Dean; Steve Rotheram MP, 27-year-old Bridget Phillipson MP and veteran Labour MP and former Blair Minister Geoffrey Robinson MP all are now campaigning in the cross-party campaign against the Alternative Vote.

Joan Ryan, Former MP and Director of Labour NO to AV, said:

Chris Huhne thinks the NO to AV campaign is a Tory front? Well he should take a second look at the levels of support a ‘no’ vote is getting from within the Labour Party – there are already over 220 declared Labour ‘no’ supporters and more coming all the time! The simple reason is because my colleagues know that the Alternative Vote is a completely unnecessary expense, which would only reward the Liberal Democrats and help supporters of extreme, fringe parties like the BNP.

The endorsement by these MPs show the No campaign has edged ahead in the argument for/against the Alternative Vote. David Hanson MP told the No Campaign:

The Labour Party is encouraging a free vote amongst its supporters and I have taken the time to consider the case made by both sides in this debate. I had originally felt that AV would be the best option – but having seen the arguments develop I am honest enough to admit I’ve changed my mind – I will therefore be voting No.

This view was shared by Michael Dugher MP, when he said:

Although I argued publicly that AV would be bad for Britain earlier this year, I have not so far joined the official No campaign. But the stakes are high and I am now happy to lend my name to the campaign and join the hundreds of other Labour MPs and thousands of activists who are going to be voting No too

Launch of NO To AV – Yes To PR

March 11, 2011

No To AV, Yes to PR campaign logo

The most important news story of the day is that Lord David Owen, Founder of SDP, which went on to form the Liberal Democrats with the Liberal party, launches No to AV, Yes to PR campaign in letter to the Guardian. He is joined by David Alton, Rt Rev Nicholas Reade Bishop of Blackburn, Nicholas Trench, and Robert Skidelsky.

Their letter argues:

We recognise that some of those strongly committed to proportional representation genuinely believe that the alternative vote is an incremental step to the fairer system of proportional representation. But we do not accept that the electoral voting system can be subject to repeated reform… otherwise it will destabilise our political system and encourage cynical attempts to change the system for reasons of partisan advantage.

…we will reluctantly vote no to the alternative vote, while continuing to campaign for the principles behind proportional representation under the slogan “No to AV, Yes to PR”.

This intervention from the leading Liberal Lord will hurt the Yes campaign, their argument of a stepping stone to PR and being ‘fairer’ will be under serious scrutiny and attack from this new group. The NO To AV, Yes to PR website is already online and they have a twitter page.

Already their arguments hit hard against the Yes campaign:

  • A NO vote in the referendum is not a vote against change; it’s a vote against the wrong change
  • AV as a ‘stepping stone’ is wishful thinking. If AV proves popular there will be no demand for further change; if it proves unpopular, then their will be demand for a return to FPTP.

I strongly welcome this group into the No campaign,which is transcending political allegiances to unite 5 trade unions, historians, Labour, Liberals, Communists, Nationalists and Conservatives, as well as the non-aligned voters who can see this miserable compromise for what it is, a massive joke.

But as well as this today’s papers are awash with more on the No campaign, in The Times 29 of the UK’s leading historians, including broadcaster David Starkey, best-selling author Anthony Beevor and the Regius Professor of History at Cambridge Richard Evans wrote of the ‘threat to democracy that AV posed’. Meanwhile the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond wrote in his local newspaper why he is voting No to AV.

The Northern Echo wrote that only 5 of the 15 regional Labour MP’s are going to vote Yes with their leader. The Daily Mail warned its readers not to ‘sleep walk’ into a Yes vote:

Before we realise what we have done, there has been the most serious act of constitutional vandalism inflicted on ourselves.

Over on the web, the betting website, Smarket recorded a 6% jump over night on money being placed for a No victory (Now stands at 60% chance of a No vote).

NO To AV: ‘British People Deserve To Be Told The Cost’

February 28, 2011

Lib Dem Danny Alexander disputes the cost of AV

Since the launch of the No To AV Campaign over two weeks ago, the press, the blogs and the tweeters have been going head to head over the disputed £250 million pound cost. After lots of ink was spilt and keyboards bashed, on Sunday an interesting twist occurred. The Independent and its sister paper the Independent on Sunday (or the Yes to AV daily newspaper) published a leaked letter. The letter from Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury stated:

“The Government has no plans to reopen departmental spending review settlements as a consequence of a Yes vote in the referendum on AV”… [he] reveals that the Treasury “has not received any advice on the assumptions behind the cost of the next general election should it be an AV election”.

Mr Alexander, who backs AV, went further, telling The IoS: “I don’t expect to see any increase in the cost of holding a general election if the British people vote yes. There’s no good reason to believe that even under a new voting system an election would need to be more expensive.”

Now first things first, I find it slightly worrying that when in a time of spending cuts and budget deficits the Treasury hasn’t even looked into the costs of holding an AV election, let alone counting one. But returning to   the leak, this leaked letter from Mr Alexanders  private office to an unspecified person or department, normally doesn’t come with a quote:

Mr Alexander, who backs AV, went further, telling The IoS:

So was it sent directly to the Independent on Sunday? Is this poor wording? Was it just a conversation with Danny and an imaginary leaked letter to make it sound more interesting? Who knows?!… Well actually Ben Bradshaw does:

Ben Bradshaw, the former Labour cabinet minister who wrote to Mr Alexander last week, said the Treasury’s position…

Hmmm I wonder who leaked the letter?

Anyway moving on, Nick Clegg also reiterated his support for AV today on the Adam Boulton Show on Sky News. To my knowledge the only proponents of Yes to AV on TV today were Lib Dems, Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg. Blowing the idea of it being Nick Clegg’s referendum out of the water there!

Returning to the main issue of the cost though, the No to AV campaign has challenged the Government to relieve their costs of AV – something which has still not been made available even though the referendum is less than 70 days away.

A spokesman for NO to AV said:

Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg are doing all they can to dispute the £250m cost of AV figure, but unlike the rest of the Yes to AV campaign, they are in the government. We challenge them to tell us their figure for the cost of AV. Either they are trying to hide it, or the government is guilty of massive negligence by putting something to the electorate that they have not properly costed. There are now less than 70 days until the referendum. The British people deserve to be told by government exactly how much the Alternative vote will cost the country.

Considering William Hague has publicly stated that he wishes that No to AV reveal its donors, to which the campaign will, voluntarily ahead of the legal timeframe. Shouldn’t the Government be held to the same level of scrutiny and openness? With less the 70 days to go till the day of the AV Referendum, the No campaign says AV will cost £250m, Yes to AV says it won’t and the Government stays quiet, albeit it for Mr Alexander.

It is time that the Government throws open its books and actually looks at the costs and comes  clean, if they don’t think it will cost £250 million how much will it cost?



NO2AV Confirms Commitment To Publishing Details of Donors

February 18, 2011


95% of Yes campaign donations came from 2 sources

The launch of the No To AV Campaign early this week, sparked wide spread media coverage on TV and in print. One of the most interesting and eye catching articles came from the Yes to AV backer, The Independent. The hostile article entitled NO2AV campaigners refuse to publish donor details’, the article by Oliver Wright stated;

At the launch of the No2Av campaign in London its director Matthew Elliott said he wanted to see more “transparency” in politics and not a political system “conducted behind closed doors”.

But when pressed on whether No2Av would publish details of who was funding its campaign before the planned referendum in May Mr Elliott refused.

The article then blanked over the revelation that the Yes campaign had received more money then the No campaign, £2 million in donations. Yet 95% had come from just two sources, the Electoral Reform Society and Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the largest donor to the Liberal Democrats. Hardly a grassroots non-political campaign then?

Oddly the truth came through from a different and more unusual place, The Guardian. The fellow Yes to AV paper published an article called, ‘No to AV campaign says referendum rules are flawed’. This article reported on the same press conference yet was a mirror image of the Independent’s article:

The campaign to say no to the alternative vote in the May referendum admitted at its launch that the referendum rules were flawed because neither the Yes nor the No campaigns will be required to disclose their donors until six months after the campaign has ended. Matthew Elliott, the campaign’s director and former chairman of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, has a long history of demanding a new open politics and said he would look at whether his campaign should disclose its donors.

He admitted the campaign was in receipt of large donations, but refused to identify the donors at the press conference, held in London. Privately, some no campaigners said they may ask donors whether they were willing to reveal their identity before the deadline set in the referendum rules…

…Elliott conceded that the requirement not to disclose donors until after the campaign was a “key flaw” in the referendum legislation. He said: “In the general election, parties have to disclose donors every quarter and during the campaign, every week of the campaign. The fact that referendum campaigns do not have to do so until six months afterwards is a flaw that needs to be looked at. We will be keeping with the rules of the legislation as they are at the moment.”

Pressed to end the secrecy by volunteering the campaign’s donors, he said: “You raise an interesting point, which we will consider.” Earlier he had described himself as “someone who had always fought for more honesty and transparency from politicians”.

The Guardian highlight in detail Matthew Elliotts long standing history as a campaigner for more open and accessible government spending, something the Independent neglected to mention. Further to this they decided to totally ignore his criticism of the existing rules, the openness to identifying donors to the campaign and the inside sources saying it was most likely going to reveal donors identity before the deadline.

Today Vote NO To AV can confirm that Matthew Elliott, Campaign Director of NO to AV, will publish the names of the campaigns significant donors in advance of its legal requirement to do. Commenting on this  Mr Elliott said:

On Tuesday I said that I believed the current rules relating to disclosure of donations should be strengthened. I am now happy to confirm that, now that Royal Assent to the referendum enabling Act has been received, No to AV will voluntarily publish before Referendum Day the donation details we would be normally expected to publish in the autumn. It is extremely important that these details are published before polling day so that voters can see who is funding our campaign. Contrary to some reports, a similar commitment has not yet been made by the Yes to AV campaign. I now call on them to join with us in making this commitment to the electorate.

In the interests of transparency I call on the Yes to AV Campaign to do the same.

So the ball is now in the Independents court, will they apologise for inaccuracy and blatant political bias? This from a newspaper that apparently doesn’t have any editorial stance to their reporting.

The bigger and more important question is whether the Yes Campaign will now reveal their other supporters and donors? ie the 5% not from the ERS and JRRT.

EDIT – Only 7 minutes after publishing this article, the Independent put out this article, ‘As Clegg and Cameron wade in, NO2AV campaigners pledge to reveal backers’.

NO To AV Launch: The Roundup

February 15, 2011

Its been a day literally filled with news stories from every paper, part of the media and blogs on the launch of the No campaign and the Alternative Vote. Below we’ve collated the biggest and most important parts of the days media:

The Sun focused on the £250 million price tag:

The bill is enough to pay for 8,000 extra nurses, 7,500 troops or 5,000 cops.

The Sun also backed the No campaign in its editorial on the fear of more coalitions, the ‘Clegg Crusade’ and huge cost:

AV or not AV
CHANGES to our voting system may not be the hottest topic of conversation. But Britain needs to wake up. The way we are all governed could soon alter fundamentally. As part of the Coalition deal, Nick Clegg secured a referendum on the Alternative Voting method where first-past-the-post is scrapped. Mr Clegg’s AV crusade could cost taxpayers £250m – enough for 8,000 nurses or 5,000 bobbies. But it’s not just the money. AV could land us with permanent coalitions, not decisive leadership. Manifesto pledges would become meaningless as horse-trading took place. Only smaller parties like the Lib Dems would stand to benefit.

Sounds like AV is something to AVoid

The Daily Telegraph used their editorial to highlight the unnecessary reform of AV and backed a 40% threshold which will be voted on later tonight (possibly) in the Commons:

Reformers are far more likely to turn out than those who don’t care or are content with the existing system. The Lords voted recently to require a turnout of at least 40 per cent in the referendum to validate any majority in favour of AV – this is surely the minimum threshold required for such a crucial decision. MPs will vote on the Lords amendment today and are being urged by ministers to reject it. They should instead give it their overwhelming support.

Over at the Independent they have a sensationalized  article entitled ‘NO2AV campaigners refuse to publish donor details’, claiming Matthew Elliot, the No campaign chairman refused to answer questions on the topic. This is totally rubbished in an unexpected place, The Guardian:

Matthew Elliott, the campaign’s director and former chairman of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, has a long history of demanding a new open politics and said he would look at whether his campaign should disclose its donors.

He admitted the campaign was in receipt of large donations, but refused to identify the donors at the press conference, held in London. Privately, some no campaigners said they may ask donors whether they were willing to reveal their identity before the deadline set in the referendum rules.

The No Campaign also unveiled a new supporter; Lord Robert Winston. On the other hand questions why the ordinary guy and girls in the street would care about the opinions of Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter, who yesterday backed the Yes camp. A view which is shared by Iain Martin in the Wall Street Journal :

…voters (possibly older and more likely to vote) will wonder what the Yes to AV campaign is hiding behind a wall of celebrity endorsements? The answer is Nick Clegg and perpetual coalition.

Wales Online focuses on the ‘other referendum’ being planned over the bridge in England (as opposed to their referendum on more powers for the Welsh Assembly):

Labour Pontypridd MP Owen Smith was not enthusiastic about either AV or the prospect of regular coalitions. He said that although he was “instinctively a reformer” he was not “hugely convinced of its merits”. He said: “It does make coalitions more likely… I’m now one of the people who will be very, very wary of ever wanting to forge an alliance with the Lib Dems.”

Dai Lloyd, the Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales West, considered AV a poor substitute for the Single Transferable Vote form of proportional representation and was “miffed” about plans to hold the referendum on the same day as the Assembly election. “If you’re talking proportional representation, this is not STV or anything like STV.”

When asked how he would vote, he said: “I haven’t actually considered it. I probably will vote but it really depends how annoyed I am with the whole situation.”

Meanwhile on the blogs, John Rentoul highlighted some historical debates on AV from 1931 Guido Fawkes covered the NO to AV Launch and focused on the Twitter battles breaking out, while on the BBC News website, Norman Smith, Chief political correspondent on BBC Radio 4 focused on the ‘Clegg question’;

Privately the No team say they will make Nick Clegg an issue in this election, by arguing that AV will lead to permanent coalition government which will lead to a permanent place for Mr Clegg around the Cabinet table.

But how hard, and how personal, they choose to make the attack on Nick Clegg, remains to be seen.

Finally the Guardian politics blog writes an interesting blog entitled: voting reform: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it‘:

Reform of the system is only one of the instant panaceas offered up by the usual mixture of idealists, rascals, innocents and opportunists

Ed Miliband Never Wanted To Share A Platform With Clegg

February 7, 2011

Ed carefully rejects joint platform with Clegg

The Guardian has learnt that Ed Miliband in a private meeting with Yes campaign told them that he refused to share a platform with Nick Clegg. The paper quoted a insider source that stated:

He said Clegg’s name had become so toxic with Labour voters he would put off potential AV backers.

Miliband said at last week’s meeting he was willing to share a platform with other Liberal Democrats, including Charles Kennedy, Lady Williams and Lord Ashdown. One source said: “His position is pretty well ABC – Anyone But Clegg.”

This huge distancing exercise from Ed Miliband runs polar opposite to what the Labour Leader has said previously at his weekly press conferences:

  • Asked if he would be willing to appear alongside the Deputy Prime Minister – also a strong supporter of voting reform – to call for a Yes vote in the referendum, Mr Miliband said: “There is a Yes to AV campaign. I will share platforms with whoever they want me to share a platform with.” – The Independent, 10th January 2011
  • Asked whether he would share a platform with Mr Clegg in campaigning for the Alternative Vote (AV) ahead of the referendum planned for next May, Mr Miliband said he would not rule it out. – The Telegraph, 13th December 2011

Further to these statements the Independent on Sunday learnt that Yes campaigners had branded the Deputy Prime Minister ‘toxic’, though a day before Ed said he would share a platform with who ever the Yes campaign wanted, the Independent on Sunday learnt:

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, will make a public offer to share a platform with Mr Clegg to campaign for a Yes vote. Sources close to Mr Miliband say he will campaign “vigorously” to replace the current first past the post (FPTP) system, despite some analysis suggesting it could disadvantage Labour in the polls… Ed is prepared to work with Nick Clegg in the interest of something he believes in. This is what we mean when we talk about new politics.”

We have already seen that the very next day such an offer was made, it left open the opportunity but no firm public offer specifically made, yet perhaps it was suppose to be made:

But he left no doubt he would add his voice to the campaign to replace first-past-the-post voting for Westminster elections with the Alternative Vote (AV).

“That said, I will be a vocal supporter of AV, because I think that it is part of a reform of politics which we need in this country. – The Scotsman, 11 January 2011

As we can see the original premise of reaffirming his support for the Alternative Vote was indeed made, as the Independent on Sunday suggested it would. But why did Labour back away from the original public peace offering? The reality was that it never existed, when looking at the ‘other’ rhetoric that Ed Miliband had said when discussing a shared platform it becomes more clear.

In the Telegraph article from December, Ed continued his comments with a disclaimer:

“There is a danger of that, and if it becomes a referendum on Nick Clegg, I think given the way things are, we are going to have trouble winning it,”…

Furthermore the Independent on Sunday article continued with a note of sorrow from a Yes campaign source:

A source close to the Yes campaign said: “The Lib Dem brand is now toxic, like most political parties, and we need to make this about the people taking back control.” Mr Clegg has conceded his profile is no longer an asset to the pro-reform movement, insisting last month: “I don’t think the Yes campaign should be run by politicians at all. This is all about the case for giving people more say over politicians.”

What Ed has done is very clever and the most sensible option available, he wrote the Labour Party 2010 Manifesto which pledged to hold its own referendum on AV, he campaigned and supported it during the Leadership race and he arguably won using AV. It is therefore logical that he had to continue with his support for the Yes campaign.

Though Labour as a party has most sensibly decided to try and avoid the issue, Andy Burnham, the party’s election campaign co-ordinator hinted towards Labour’s stance in November, he told the Guardian ‘Labour will not campaign for alternative vote’:

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has sold electoral reform campaigners short by agreeing to hold the AV referendum on the same day as the local and national elections. The referendum should have been held on its own day, when the yes and no campaigns could have argued it out. Our sole priority has to be, and will be, winning in Scotland, and Wales, and doing well in the local elections.

It would be a recipe for chaos and confusion if Labour candidates were also supporting AV in their literature. The election and referendum campaigns have to be separate and distinct.

Burnham had sensibly chosen to focus energy on a renewed Labour fight in the devolved bodies, where majority Labour rule is a strong possibility and in local elections in England. Andy Burnham was also the only candidate in the Leadership election to speak out against electoral reform:

It is not my party’s job to prop up the Liberal Democrats by helping them win a referendum that is important to them. The party nationally couldn’t campaign for any one position – you know, it really couldn’t. Those who are calling for retention of first past the post are making an incredibly important and legitimate argument.

Let’s not get obsessed by this issue, because it really is irrelevant. It’s a kind of fringe pursuit for Guardian-reading classes. – The Guardian, 1st July 2010

Even in July while the Leadership election was on going it was apparent that Labour could not unite behind the Alternative Vote. Since then, the then Shadow Chancellor and supporter of AV+, Alan Johnson said:

“I think it’s weird that you havea referendum and don’t tell the [British people] they’re grown up enough to have a proportional alternative as well. [Nick] Clegg has been remarkablyweak on this.”

When I ask a second time if the referendum will be lost, he seems pessimistic. “I hope not… [But] I think a referendum on May 5 doesn’t sound all that sensible now.” Will he be devastated should the No vote win?“I won’t be heartbroken,” he says. “If it goes through, I’ll support AV, but my heart won’t be in it in the same way as if it was the proper thing. – The Fabian Review,  Winter 2010

After one of Labour’s biggest supporters of electoral reform ducked the issue and appeared agnostic, news came that 10 of the new class of 2010 were No to AV, more then 100 backbenchers and Shadow Cabinet also rejected a change from First Past the Post, the No to AV campaign would be backed by party heavyweights and that the latest Labour List survey shows the No campaign 4 points ahead amongst Labour members, it is no wonder Ed is moving away from the issue.

Further to this the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) stated in its last meeting:

Harriet [Harman] said she was personally going to vote for AV in the referendum but the Lib Dems had been mugged by the Tories as holding it on 5 May when there were elections was stopping cross-party campaigning for a Yes vote. The Labour election campaign was the priority, not the referendum.

With such an overwhelming sense of Labour not wanting a change and on top of this the news that the No to AV campaign will adopt an anti-Nick Clegg platform, it is unsurprising that Ed Miliband followed collective wisdom of his party; abandoning Nick Clegg, giving as yet token support to the Yes campaign and echoing Burnham when stating:

The priority for May is the local and Scottish and Welsh elections – The Western Mail, 11th January 2011