Posts Tagged ‘the Labour party’

If reform means breaking the link then we will lose

18/11/2010, 03:59:42 PM

by Tom Watson

One of the most difficult meetings I have taken part in was when I defied Gordon Brown at a sub-committee of the NEC. He had been convinced of the need to impose a candidate in Nottingham East by outgoing general secretary of the Labour party, Ray Collins. The general election had been called and there was little time to organise a last minute selection of members.

Collins was worried about the amount of time that would be diverted from campaigning in key seats. On balance, he was probably right, but I felt very strongly that members should ultimately decide who their Parliamentary candidate should be, even if it was at a quickly convened meeting. The vote was won by one, after Dianne Hayter, in a last minute shift and out of deference to Gordon, conceded on her avowed opposition to impositions. I voted against him. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.

Up until the Nottingham decision the last candidate to be imposed by the leadership of the party was a general secretary of a powerful trade union, Alan Johnson. I thought of that moment today when I read Alan’s comments in the Times newspaper. Alan wants to introduce full one-member-one-vote rules for electing our leader like the ones we have for selecting our MPs.

“It can be one member four votes and that’s wrong”, says Alan. He may be right about that. The current system of an electoral college allows multiple votes in different sections all having an unequal value, with a trade union levy payer vote having the least value and an MPs vote having the most value. One MPs vote was worth hundreds of trade unionist votes in the leadership election. Many people think that unfair. (more…)

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