A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Not such a neat idea

The usually admirably sensible Gareth Thomas MP has suggested that Labour should have primary elections - http://www.progressives.org.uk/magazine/default.asp?action=magazine&articleid=1039

Yup. Great. So we can be like the Democrats and have our registered supporters pick a string of candidates who make us feel great and rah-rah-radical, then crash and burn in the main election. Remember all those great Presidential candidates the Democrats picked by primary: George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry ...

And we would get to have yet another set of elections - a sure fire way to counter political apathy. Not.

And rip ourselves to shreds in front of the watching nation. Oh, I forgot, we're quite capable of doing that without a primary.

If you need a 2 word argument against primaries: Howard Dean. Or did he win the Iowa caucus? (answers on a postcard please to...)


Blogger El Dave. said...

The use of primaries in the US is a sop to the fact that the GOP and Dems are very much cadre parties who, at times, pretend that they are 'plumbed in' to their communities.

While it is true that the relations between political parties at the local level and how they relate to the communities in which they find themselves are not good, they are considerably better, in my experience, than the US.

The experience of John McCain in the 2000 primaries puts the lie, I think, to this idea; rather than being used as intended, for rank-and-file members to have a greater voice in selecting their candidates, they are used to savage opponents within the same party. In the US context, this is damaging. In Britain, where parties are more coherent and there are threats to both Tory and Labour from the left and right of each, this would be devastating.

Gareth Thomas' post also overlooks one of the main features of primaries: they vary from state to state, such taht in some states anyone can vote and in others only registered Dems/GOPers can vote; the latter is not a million miles away from the current British system.

There is also the risk of someone coming in on a single-issue platform and becoming a candidate on a very emotive issue.

6:09 pm, July 10, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, 2000 and 2004, who would you have gone into an election with? Joe Lieberman? John Edwards? Maybe Gore and Kerry were the best the Democrats could come up with.

7:10 pm, July 10, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Yes Lieberman in 2000 and Edwards in 2004. If Gore and Kerry really are the most charismatic leaders that the left can come up with out of a populaion of 295m then we really have a problem.

8:12 pm, July 10, 2006

Blogger parburypolitica said...

Primaries now there is an excellent idea as a member of the Labour Party where we get very little influence over policy, the next great idea is to remove our influence over candidate selection. I pay my £36 per year because?

8:18 pm, July 10, 2006

Blogger kris said...

Guys, some things just don't travel well; and in this case, someone just doesn't seem to get the distinction between the Westminster and White House models...I despair!

8:25 pm, July 10, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Says a lot really. Luke Akehurst, conservative Democrat.

Get those video games, rap music and pop promos banned in Hackney, Luke!

Cllr Akehurst, the avenging moral crusader, you read it here, first!

11:33 pm, July 10, 2006

Anonymous Dan Judelson said...

Primaries are a natural outcome of having supporters rather than members. I think it was actually Stephen Byers who first flaoted this idea and it is worrying that it has not been comprehensively knocked on the head yet. Party officials have dismissed alarm at a primary system as as anti-Blair conspiracy theories but this dismissal doesn't reallty hold water when Byers and Thomas openly suggest it.

10:21 am, July 11, 2006

Blogger El Tom said...

hmm. I would hate the idea of primaries. but then, at least the leadership couldn't tell everyone who to vote for!

thats what being a progressive is about, after all; deterring change and maintaining current orders!

12:24 am, July 16, 2006


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