Blair was 'unpersuaded' of need for voting reform

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Indy Politics

Downing Street said yesterday that Tony Blair was "unpersuaded" of the case for electoral reform for Westminster, despite fresh claims that the Prime Minister wanted a Lib-Lab coalition government.

Downing Street said yesterday that Tony Blair was "unpersuaded" of the case for electoral reform for Westminster, despite fresh claims that the Prime Minister wanted a Lib-Lab coalition government.

Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, said Mr Blair had told him that he would have preferred the two parties to team up after the 1997 general election.

Speaking on the first day of the serialisation of his diaries, Mr Ashdown said Mr Blair agreed that a coalition of the two parties was "inevitable".

But Downing Street distanced itself from the remarks and stated that the Prime Minister was not convinced of the need for a proportional voting system for Parliament. Mr Ashdown's diaries were a case of "another week, another book.".

However, Mr Blair's official spokesman allowed a glimmer of hope for supporters of electoral reform by saying that the Labour leader was in tune with the broad thrust of proposals outlined by Lord Jenkins.

Lord Jenkins concluded in 1998 that a system of elections called "alternative vote plus", which included an element of proportional voting, would produce a fairer outcome than the first-past-the-post system.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "[Mr Blair is ] unpersuaded of the case for PR for Westminster."

In another extract from his diaries Mr Ashdown said Prince Charles suggested that a Roman Catholic should be allowed to ascend the throne.

He said the Prince made his comments to him while they chatted with Mr Blair and Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, on a plane journey five years ago. In response to a suggestion that the Church of England should be disestablished, the Prince said he saw no reason why a Catholic should not be allowed to take the throne.

The 1701 Act of Settlement bars Catholics from the line of succession to the throne.

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