“AV is not British”

John Reid (picture Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J McNeeley, US Navy / US Department of Defense)

Those were the words of Labour peer John Reid speaking at a No2AV press conference with David Cameron this morning, reported by John Rentoul of the Independent.  The interest of most political correspondents lay in the fact that Labour and Tory politicians were on the same platform, sharing an argument.  I think it is more striking that their argument was so absurd.

Can it really be a powerful argument against any kind of reform that other countries have done it first?  After all, one of the arguments that the No campaign likes to put forward that not many other countries use AV: they can’t have it both ways.

Furthermore, we have often imported democratic innovations from abroad: the secret ballot was first used in Australia, and women’s suffrage came from New Zealand.  Democracy itself is Greek, and the first country to abolish the slave trade was Denmark.  What would John Reid have said about all of those?

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