David Blackburn

Hughes leaps to the coalition’s defence

Hughes leaps to the coalition’s defence
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Simon Hughes is defending his party’s core interests with singular ferocity. Today, he has turned on Labour’s decision not support the AV bill. Hughes told the BBC:

‘They can't, in any logic, oppose the idea that you have equal numbers of voters per seat. And they are trying to pretend somehow putting equal numbers of voters per seat proposal to go with AV makes it something they can't support. It is an indefensible position, they are playing games, and their new leader will hugely embarrassed by this decision.’

It’s clever politics from the point of view of the coalition: get the Lib Dems to attack Labour’s apparent duplicity from the point of view of fairness in the hope of maximising Labour abstentions. Hughes’ approach presents AV and boundary changes as two parts of the same issue. He said:

‘But the political reason is this is about the next general election, about what sort of voting system we have in a constituency based system where there is one MP elected, and how many voters there are. It would be absolutely illogical to have two sets of parliamentary timetable - all this has to be taken on the floor of the House because it’s constitutional change - about the same issue.’

PS: Kiran Stacey at the FT has a useful background article on the amendments to the AV bill.