The chances of a referendum on electoral reform being held after the next general election, regardless of which party wins, were in the balance last night as Labour MPs appeared split down the middle.
Electoral reformers in the cabinet are seeking to amend the constitutional reform bill passing through the Commons to include a clause to bind the next government to a referendum on whether to adopt the alternative vote (AV) system.
Some see that as the party's last chance to commit any future government to such a move, even if, in the event of a Tory victory, the next administration is opposed to electoral reform...
One MP in favour of amending legislation was upbeat, suggesting his side had narrowly won because they had managed to persuade some Labour MPs to back the alternative vote option as better than full-blown reform. Labour MPs in favour were said to include Hugh Bailey, Tom Levitt and Richard Burden.
Explaining the government's motivation, sources said that if the Tories won the next election they would have to hold the referendum or repeal the legislation, which is intended to paint the current government as "for change" and the Tories as for the status quo....
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