UK Labour MPs launch opposition (FWD)

Fri Oct 30 15:41:54 PST 1998

My standard comment- power corrupts, minority rule gerrymander power corrupts
absolutely (with due respect to Lord Acton) --
UK Labour MPs launch opposition to election change

LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - A group of MPs from Britain's ruling Labour Party
launched a campaign on Friday to oppose any change in the voting system used
in parliamentary elections, following recommendations for a switch to
proportional representation. 

Member of Parliament Stuart Bell said MPs, business leaders and trades unions
would be involved in the new First Past the Post Group, which would cooperate
and share a platform with opposition Conservatives to fight change. 

A commission, headed by former finance minister Lord Roy Jenkins, on Thursday
proposed sweeping changes which would give Britain a semi-proportional system
closer to that of most other European countries. 

Oppostion Conservatives are united in their opposition to change, but Labour
is split. 

Bell said be believed two-thirds of government ministers, 130 of Labour's 419
MPs and a clear majority of Labour Party members were opposed to any change to
the first-past the post system. 

Following discussions with Prime Minister Tony Blair on the subject, Bell said
he was sure proportional representation was ``not high on his agenda.'' 

The aim of the group is to prepare to fight a referendum on the subject, which
the government has promised to hold ahead of any change. 

``The purpose of the campaign steering committee will be to be ready for the
referendum whenever it may be called and to put forward the positive
advantages of first past the post as opposed to the 'pig in the poke'
proposals of Lord Jenkins,'' he told reporters. 

Bell said the campaign would raise 200,000 pounds to fight the referendum

One major business lobby, the Institute of Directors, has already voiced its
opposition to change, saying a proportional system would unsettle financial
markets and harm business confidence. 

12:31 10-30-98 

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