A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Unions elect Labour's new leader
26/09/2010 07:17:00

There's been a lot of discussion in Conservative circles about which of the Miliband brothers we would prefer to be elected as Labour Leader. "Sources close to the Prime Minister" have briefed the media that he believes David Miliband would be a more formidable opponent. I'm not so sure - although the elder Miliband has a better understanding of where Labour needs to position itself, his younger brother is a more effective communicator.

But the actual result is surely the worst possible outcome for Labour - Ed Miliband has won, despite not being the choice of Labour MPs or Labour Party members, because he secured very strong support from the trade unions and other organisations affiliated to the Labour Party. Even when union and affiliated organisation votes were taken into account, he wasn't ahead on first preference votes - he only won because he received more of the second, third or even fourth preference votes from people whose first choice was Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham or Ed Balls (this is of course the electoral system which could replace the first-past-the-post system we use for General Elections depending on how we vote in the referendum next May - today's result is a good example of how treating a fourth preference vote as equivalent to someone's first preference does not necessarily produce a fairer result).

It will be interesting to see whether David Miliband takes a position in the Shadow Cabinet or retires to the backbenches. Given that he was clearly better qualified for the job in terms of experience and that the two brothers have always been very close, Ed's decision to stand must have put a real strain on their relationship. I thought he conducted himself with real dignity yesterday.

Finally, I suspect Ed Milliband may regret the "millions of people are better off thanks to Gordon Brown" line in his victory speech. Pretty much everyone in the country is going to be paying higher taxes for years to come and face cuts in public services because of the huge budget gap Gordon Brown ran up. Add to that, the way he sold our gold reserves at rock bottom prices and wrecked our pension system and, despite the fact that he got some things right, Mr Milliband's claim looks pretty hard to justify.

UPDATE: The website Inside Croydon has responded to this post with a piece entitled "Croydon MP Gavin Barwell comes out against democracy". Accusing people who don't agree with you on a point of detail (in this case, what particular electoral system we should use) of not believing in democracy/fairness/equality/human rights is a bell weather sign of a weak argument so I won't bother responding to it but there are two statements/implications in the post that need correcting and unfortunately the author of the blog doesn't have sufficient confidence in their arguments either to allow comments or to identify themselves, in which case I could raise the issue with them personally.

First, my blog is clearly political in tone and therefore is paid for by Croydon Central & South Conservative Federation, not out of my allowances.

Second, I am in favour of some reform - specifically, fairer boundaries, individual registration to improve the accuracy of the electoral register (the list of people entitled to vote) and a second chamber elected by a proportional electoral system.

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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG