'114 Labour MPs oppose voting change'

By Joe Churcher,Pa
Wednesday 29 December 2010 08:37

Campaigners against a change in the Westminster voting system claimed the support of 114 Labour MPs today in their bid to secure a "no" vote in next May's referendum.

The cross-party No To AV group hailed the declared backing of almost half the party's 253-strong Commons contingent as a significant signal of the party's opposition to replacing the first-past-the-post system.

Labour leader Ed Miliband backs the change to the alternative vote system - a Labour manifesto promise - and has refused to rule out campaigning alongside Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for the rival "yes" campaign.

But MPs have been allowed a free vote on the issue and many are determined to help block the move, with five members of the Shadow Cabinet among those declaring their opposition: Caroline Flint, John Healey, Meg Hillier, Mary Creagh and Ivan Lewis.

No To AV has already assembled a high-profile team of senior Labour figures to head its campaign, including Margaret Beckett, John Prescott, David Blunkett, John Reid and Lord Falconer.

They will work alongside senior Tories such as Foreign Secretary William Hague, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and party chairman Baroness Warsi.

Allowing a public vote - due to be held on May 5 on the same day as local and devolved administration elections - was a key concession won by the Liberal Democrats as part of coalition negotiations with the Conservatives.

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