Shadow Cabinet revolt as Miliband launches AV bid

Ed Miliband has been hit by a growing Labour revolt against his support for a change in the voting system as more than 200 Labour MPs and peers back the existing first-past-the-post process.

Writing in The Independent today, the shadow Health Secretary John Healey becomes the most senior Shadow Cabinet member to come out against electoral reform. He brands the alternative vote (AV) system, on which a referendum will be held on 5 May, as "perverse".

Mr Healey, who came second in the elections among Labour MPs to the Shadow Cabinet last October, said the introduction of AV would make Nick Clegg the "kingmaker" in any hung parliament.

Mr Miliband, who is campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum, has allowed his MPs the freedom to go their own way. But the No camp claimed he is in a minority in his own parliamentary party.

It pre-empted Mr Miliband's launch of the Labour Yes! campaign tonight by announcing that 103 of the party's MPs and 109 Labour peers oppose AV. Other Shadow Cabinet ministers who have joined Mr Healey in urging a No vote are Caroline Flint, the shadow Communities Secretary and Mary Creagh, the shadow Environment Secretary.

Another 19 opposition frontbenchers have come out for the No campaign. Nine former Cabinet ministers are among the Labour peers who oppose AV – including Lord Hutton of Furness, Lord Reid of Cardowan, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, Lord Irvine of Lairg, Lord Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull and Lord Boateng of Akyem. However, eight Shadow Cabinet ministers have backed Mr Miliband's stance – Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Liam Byrne, John Denham, Peter Hain, Sadiq Khan, Tessa Jowell and Hilary Benn. Others have yet to decide.

Tonight Mr Miliband will admit that AV is "no panacea" and "isn't perfect", but will insist that it would help to restore the balance of power in favour of voters. He will tell a rally in London: "It will make more votes count. And when more votes count, politicians have to count on more voters."

He will deny that a Yes vote would help Mr Clegg, a hate figure for many Labour MPs and members after joining the Conservatives in the Coalition.

"We can't reduce the second referendum in British political history to a verdict on one man," Mr Miliband will say. "The change to the alternative vote deserves our support because it is fairer and because it encourages a better politics. But that should be the beginning of the journey, not the end."

The Labour leader will argue that electoral reform must be accompanied by the creation of an elected House of Lords. "The British people know that the state of our politics is badly broken. Many see Westminster as remote and out of touch. Politicians should never feel safe or insulated from those they represent. That's what I want to change," he will say.

Although Labour promised a referendum on AV in its manifesto at last year's general election, many of the party's MPs backed it reluctantly. They have now reverted to their support for the first-past-the-post system – in some cases, as a way of punishing Mr Clegg for joining the Coalition.

Joan Ryan, director of Labour NO to AV, said:"We are delighted to launch Labour NO to AV with the support of well over half of the Parliamentary Labour Party. The Labour Party is taking no official position on the AV referendum in May, but over 200 MPs and peers are urging Labour members and supporters to vote 'No' to the unpopular, unfair and expensive AV."

Tony Lloyd, who chairs the Parliamentary Labour Party and is backing the No campaign, said: "Nick Clegg demanded this AV referendum as a fix to keep his party in Government. The only party to benefit from AV would be the Lib Dems. I believe voters should keep the right to evict one Government and choose another. We shouldn't be handing that power to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats."

Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree - £18k Starting Salary

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London