Today’s Guardian is reporting that David Miliband wants to make a fairly unpalatable looking offer to the Liberal Democrats. It says he,
… would like to persuade Nick Clegg to pull out of plans for a referendum on the alternative vote next May.
Instead, Miliband wants the Liberal Democrat leader to consider his proposal of a joint referendum on the House of Commons voting system and an elected House of Lords on the same day – something Miliband has called a democracy day.
Pause for a moment to recall that the Conservatives have agreed to introduce elections for the House of Lords, and by Proportional Representation no less.
So David Miliband’s offer amounts to a massive watering down of what the Conservatives have already agreed to on the Lords. In other words, it’s a bloody awful offer.
In fact, it has all the signs of being nothing to do with wanting to woo Liberal Democrats (do a deal with me! get less! go on!) and far more to do with Labour internal politics:
Friends of David Miliband have said that if he became leader and Clegg opted to support his plan, he would be able to pledge more full-throated Labour support for the Commons voting reform if it was combined with a ballot on whether to introduce an elected second chamber.
In other words, it is a idea being floated to try to give David Miliband some cover for supporting AV in a referendum which, er…, is what was in Labour’s general election manifesto.