Jon Cruddas represents the 'new left' of the Labour party that both has good relations with the unions and yet a modern narrative for the media and electorate - they may be few but could be crucial to Labour's next decade. So it is heart warming to hear Cruddas call for PR elections for Westminster in today's Guardian.
This is reaching areas of the 'old' Labour party that reformers need to reach - confused old Labour has responded with the same old lies about PR that the Tories always reel out - all lies when we actually look at the facts - (the far right actually do poorly in PR countries, Scandanavia, Germany and other PR countries have also had less post war instability - less elections/ leaders and changes of government). We need to win MPs like this over.
Labourlist looks at the advantages of having the PR referendum at the same time as a general election and makes some excellent points - go take a read. The biggest advantage of this is that no-one can then credibly claim this is Labour trying to change things just to save themselves from defeat, since the next election will still be under first-past-the-post. I also believe the Tories would be left defending the indefensible - a rotten system that for the first time would be under the microscope for the wider electorate.
The biggest criticism of doing this seems to be we don't know when the election will be so how would we plan the referendum debate. This is not really a problem, just an excuse. The election will be in May or June 2010 and so will the referendum - it will be announced 4 or 5 weeks before, so there will be plenty of time for both campaigns to get their points across. For once people would be able to judge the merits of electoral reform aside from 'voting to kick the government' - people could vote for reform and still elect a Tory government if they wish, what a predicament the Tories would be in - getting 40% of the vote in a general election and forming a majority in parliament and then trying to deny the wishes of over 50% of voters in a PR referendum. I couldn't think of a better way to emphasise what the Tories really think of democracy.