in our first of a series of  conference fragments, Spin Pitman is glad he was persuaded to back AV

At the Green Party autumn conference last weekend we passed a motion to commit the Party to supporting the proposed referendum on AV next May, as a step towards implementing PR at Westminster.

The debate was pretty divided – resulting in me being less and less sure on my position as conference went on – yet finally being swayed by Peter Cranie’s speech on the failings of the pro-devolution movement in Scotland’s ’79 referendum.

The main point of consensus was that the party’s long term commitment to PR must be maintained and that throughout the campaign the point will be reiterated that AV is not where our commitment ends. Many arguments were simultaneously used for and against. For example, it was argued that a ‘no’ vote would set the movement back a generation (Scottish devolution), while at the same time many considered that a ‘yes’ vote would leave us stuck with AV for a similar period (Australia).

The main argument against us supporting the referendum was that it is not what we believe in. That it was the crumbs from the ConDem table designed to placate the Lib Dem voters while not really changing anything – yet retain their party’s support for the most ideologically concerted attack on the public sector since before I was born. We don’t want to be seen to be supporting the Coalition or a failed referendum given that we are finally getting somewhere.

The main benefit of AV to the Greens is that it allows our core vote to be clearly shown – since many of our potential supporters won’t vote for us in a general election due to the need to ‘keep the Tories out’. AV will allow us to be ranked first, while that goal still being achieved.

However, we thankfully moved away from partisan politics and agreed to get our hands dirty.

Politics happens in the real world, in day to day struggles. It is important to maintain our progressive ideals, but if all we do is wait until the day that they can be implemented without compromise then they are useless.

Caroline Lucas MP has tabled a motion to put both AMS and STV as options on the ballot paper,

while conference has voted in support of a campaign on AV. It is this fusion of long term ideals and short term pragmatism that will allow us all to progress.