THE REPORT is of enormous significance. It lays out a potential solution to a problem which has dogged British democracy from its earliest days. It offers a way for Britons to organise our society better and rule ourselves more fairly. Will Blair implement Jenkins? He welcomed the report with more-than-neutral warmth yesterday, though with little urgency.
Action will probably be delayed into the next parliament. Meantime, there should be a loud, engaged debate on what is a concrete proposal. We welcome it, and believe the burden is now on traditionalists to probe why this change will not improve our politics - and our national life.
LORD JENKINS has has performed an admirable service by setting out the arguments for change, and these deserve to be thoroughly considered. But it remains for the advocates of change to convince the country that a just prejudice in favour of the status quo should be overruled. It is hard to believe that they will be successful. The report can expect to spend an extended period grazing in the long grass, and if most of the Cabinet have their way, it will not emerge from it.
MR BLAIR'S initial response to Jenkins was evasive, emphasising that there is no need to rush. It was consistent with quietly dropping Jenkins altogether. It was also consistent with holding a referendum on the proposal later in this parliament. The Prime Minister, presented with a choice of whether to disappoint his party or Paddy Ashdown, still looks to choose the latter. To usher Ashdown into grandfatherly retirement would be to betray the new politics. It is possible that Jenkins has marked the beginning of its end.
PUTTING WOY Jenkins in charge of a review of the voting system was like asking Oliver Reed to conduct an impartial investigation into whether the pubs should open 24 hours a day. No change was not an option. All you need to know about the report can be summed up in four words. Vote Tony, vote often. (Richard Littlejohn)
LIKE EVERY other system, first-past-the-post can be unfair, but there is no public demand for reform. Lord Jenkins has performed a valuable service in producing his report. It should be widely debated. And then left to gather dust.Reuse content