Posts Tagged ‘special cases’

Parliamentary selections: democracy a la Monty Python

03/01/2011, 12:30:35 PM

by Rob Marchant

The last few days have seen two major Labour news stories. First, the clash between the pro and anti camps for the additional vote (AV) referendum. Second, the controversy over supposed changes to Labour’s funding and voting model with respect to trade unions. What is not, perhaps, immediately obvious is that the two are connected.

It is surprising that people in the Labour party can get so exercised over AV. There are so many other policy areas, which the public deeply cares about, on which we should be staking out our position, in order to engage them. What is more difficult to understand is not that people get worked up about AV, but how inconsistent our thinking is.

We are ready, and rightly, to defend Parliamentary democracy to the death. With the AV/PR debate, many of us take it to another level. We agonise over how we can make it adequately representative and fair. Rum, given that, when applied to our own internal party elections, these words fail to ring true.

Take parliamentary selections, for example. Are they representative and fair? Our process is Byzantine to start with (p76-86 here if you are interested). But, in addition, there are the distorting “special cases” which have multiplied over the years. If you are from an ethnic minority, you are a special case and can leapfrog some parts of the process. A woman? Special case. Disabled, or from a manual or clerical background? Special case, at least in theory. On a union’s national Parliamentary list? Special case. Backed by a local affiliate? Special case. (more…)

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