I am researching the Labour Party and Electoral Reform for my PhD in the Department of Politics.
It was the Alternative Vote Referendum in 2011 which drew my attention to the split in the Labour Party over whether to support First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) or the Alternative Vote (AV). On further inspection this division has existed within the Labour Party since its inception and when electoral reform has appeared on the political agenda in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it has prompted debate within the party.
Three case studies will form the majority of my thesis: the Plant Report 1990-1993, Jenkins Commission 1998 and the Alternative Vote Referendum 2011, with the arguments put forward by defenders of FPTP and supporters of reform reanalysed and reappraised. It will also contain an historical chapter from 1900 to the mid 1980’s and a theoretical chapter outlining pluralism, democratic elitism and Marxism.
My research is primarily interview based with those who sat on and contributed to the aforementioned events including current and former MP’s, Peers, Trade Unionists and academics. Consequently, it is an elite level study of an elite level attitude which is being assessed as it is at the top of the Labour Party where the important policy decisions are made.