Posts Tagged ‘primaries’

If party reform goes through as advertised, it is a major triumph. But it ain’t over till it’s over

05/02/2014, 01:56:27 PM

by Rob Marchant

It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for Labour. It started with Miliband’s ideas on how to change competition in banking, and ran through Balls’ announcement on fiscal probity, of which the only story newspapers wanted to print was about the retention of the 50p tax rate. Indeed, the economic story that they tell is one which could yet be Labour’s undoing.

But let us give credit where it is undoubtedly due. The settlement announced at the weekend was, for the long-term future of the party, an undeniable success. It did not go as far as some of us might have wanted. But given where we are in the electoral cycle and the importance of not facing a general election broke, it was surely about as good as anyone could have hoped for.

If you can secure the fulsome praise of Andrew Rawnsley and John Rentoul – no Miliband cheerleaders they – for reforms which they describe as “bold” and “brave” respectively, you must know that you have done something out of the ordinary.

In summary: move to individual affiliation for union members – tick. Primary in London – tick. End of electoral college in leadership elections – tick. Most importantly, it leaves the door open for further reform. If the London primary is a success, then the argument for using them to select parliamentary candidates could become unstoppable. We didn’t get changes on conference voting, but then no-one expected we would.

Now, let’s assume the best of all worlds, and that this all goes through on the nod. Not a particularly safe assumption, but let’s assume it does.

Is there still a caveat? Of course there is. This is Labour Uncut, and we know how to sit amongst the most churlish of churls, if there is an uncomfortable truth to be told. And to do so, we have to get down into a nerdiness of procedural detail that even respected political journalists might baulk at.

And it is this. What happens if there is a leadership election next year?


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Exclusive Uncut poll: primaries don’t break the bank and a majority of Labour supporters would take part

19/09/2013, 09:56:49 PM

by Rob Marchant

As Ed Miliband puts the finishing touches to Tuesday’s conference speech, it would be very surprising indeed if it did not contain a major passage on his reform of the link between party and trade unions. It is not just that the subject of the Falkirk selection fiasco, and the resulting announcement of a programme of widespread reform, will still be very fresh in delegates’ minds.

It is that Miliband has clearly staked his leadership on that programme’s success.

As Ray Collins has set out in his interim report for the party, released yesterday, primaries are a central component of the reforms. Ed has suggested the use of a US-style primary to select Labour’s candidate for London Mayor and raised their potential use in parliamentary selections where the MP is retiring or local party membership has dwindled.

Using a primary to select Labour’s London mayoral candidate kills several birds with one stone: it aids Miliband with his current headache over who might be a reasonable candidate with wide appeal; it would prove that such a process works, on a grand scale, and clear the way for its use in selecting candidates for parliament; and, most importantly, it would ensure no stitch-ups by special interest groups, as was alleged in Falkirk over the union Unite’s involvement.

It has, however, two disadvantages. One is that primaries are costly, and the party is broke. And the second is that the risk is high: a failure in London would be a very high-profile failure indeed, and would surely kill the idea of primaries for MP selections. It could even stop the whole reform programme in its tracks.

So the debate has become somewhat heated already: union leaders see this as a way for the party to clip their wings, and party members are nervous that the party might collapse financially, or even politically.

All of these actors, then, might be interested to take note of the following.

50% of Labour supporters say they would either probably or definitely take part in this type of primary – even if non-members had to pay £1 to register – with 15% saying they would definitely take part and 35% probably (if they didn’t have to pay the £1, the total figure rises to 69%). (more…)

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Labour primaries: a dash for cash?

02/11/2011, 08:43:54 AM

by Andy Howell

As Labour’s newly elected NEC prepares to settle in for the new year, it appears that one of the issues they will be considering carefully is that of primaries for selections. Primaries are loved by some and hated by others and, perhaps, the controversy over them was why refounding Labour was relatively passive on the subject or, at least, kicked it into the long grass.

Renewed interest in primaries follows the French socialist party’s recent use of a primary system to select their presidential candidates. Here at party HQ, interest in the French experiment seems to lie less with a desire to expand democracy, and more with of a sense that primaries are an opportunity to pull in some quick cash.

The business case following the French primaries is simple. To vote in the French Socialist’s primary voters had to pay a €1 fee. 2,860,157 people voted in the second round which, of course, equates to a lot of dosh — just short of £2.5 million pounds. (more…)

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Ian Austin on the leadership primary he’s running in Dudley North

27/07/2010, 12:35:18 PM

Voters in Dudley North are going back to the polls this week. Labour party volunteers are out delivering letters to residents. Supporters of different candidates are busy hitting the phones and knocking doors canvassing for votes.

It’s not a by-election. It’s a ground-breaking American-style primary to give Labour supporters in Dudley North their say in the Labour leadership election. I’ve promised to cast the vote I’m given as a Labour MP for the candidate local people choose. (more…)

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