Labour drifting into No to AV camp despite Miliband support

By Ian Dunt

Ed Miliband’s enthusiastic support for AV has failed to prevent his MPs drifting to the ‘no’ camp.

Further senior Labour figures came out in support of No to AV today, including shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy.

While 87 Labour MPs support the ‘yes’ campaign, 129 are now in the ‘no’ camp.

“There can be no doubt, the Labour party is making up its mind and it is voting ‘no’ to the expensive and unfair alternative vote system,” said Joan Ryan, director of Labour NO to AV and former vice chair of the party.

The extent of Labour support for the ‘no’ campaign will be an embarrassment to Mr Miliband, who yesterday shared a platform with business secretary Vince Cable to promote the ‘yes’ campaign.

“I respect those in our party who are against change but I think they are wrong and I disagree with them,” he said.

Writing for Labour Uncut this morning, Mr Murphy said: “The main reason I have decided to vote ‘no’ is that the supporters of changing the system haven’t made a convincing enough case that this is the right kind of change.

“They have struggled to make a persuasive argument about why the country’s politics would be better with AV.”

Former chief whip Nick Brown and former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth are also among the Labour figures pledging to vote ‘no’.

Over 700 Labour councillors across the country are also planning to vote ‘no’, No to AV activists said.

Labour is the only major party to find itself divided over the issue. The Conservatives are almost universally anti-reform and the Lib Dems pro-reform.

Many smaller parties back change because it would minimise tactical voting and encourage their supporters to back them, while giving mainstream parties their second preference vote.