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.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Leadership elections Swedish style

One of my hobbies is pointing out how hardline the Swedish Social Democrats are on disciplinary matters to naive British lefties.

They've just had a leadership "election", which elected party moderniser and right-winger Mona Sahlin.

An Election Committee of Party high-ups "consults" local branches.

Then it decides who the most suitable candidate is and presents a single name to an extraordinary party conference. Which then unanimously elects the nominee.

No nominations, no OMOV, no electoral college...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consulation, even within inverted commas, is a damn sight better than what Labour party members have been offered.

Is there anything the leadership could do that you wouldn't jump through hoops to defend?

10:41 pm, May 20, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Very little, seeing as I share their politics.

10:44 pm, May 20, 2007

Anonymous Ms Cindy Wilson said...

Cllr Akehurst

Interseting ideas but a little too extreme.

I am howevere interesting in expelling members of extremist groups from my party the Labour party.

I can't believe that people like this


get a vote in the future leadersip of our party.

is there anything we can do to remove them, they obviously don't support Labour


10:49 pm, May 20, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I wasn't actually proposing the Swedish social democrat system, just finding it ironic given the way Compass etc. talk up the Swedish example - without knowing much about it.

10:51 pm, May 20, 2007

Anonymous Michael said...

"Moderniser" as in modernising us all back into the 19th century? That doesn't sound very modern, please refrain from the newspeak luke.

The only hope for earth is democratic socialism, as a nearly entirely service based economy how will we survive the next depression? A knowledge economy produces no goods, and knowledge is easily learnt or exported... Ah modernisation, perhaps the 19th century was a bit optimistic, perhaps we'll be modernised all the way back to the stone age.

11:48 pm, May 20, 2007

Blogger Owen said...

Firstly, that system is actually more democratic than the situation members currently face. After all, there's no consultation whatsoever. Party members and trade unionists are bystanders.

Secondly, Cindy Wilson is a pseudonym adopted by one of a couple of rightwing thugs linked to elements within the Unison hierarchy who have been bullying Marsha-Jane for several months now. In this case, they've adapted the name of a US singer, though they have used a variety of names before. These individuals - who are systematically harrassing a dedicated young Unison and Labour party member - are beneath contempt. For example, they have been spreading rumours about Marsha's private life around the internet in a disgraceful attempt to discredit her. I'm at a loss to understand how these individuals justify or rationalise their behaviour.

"Cindy Wilson" - I've got a pretty good idea who you are. I suggest you cease your campaign of bullying or I'll expose who you are (not least because you stupidly use the same IP address). I suggest you desist straight away.


12:37 am, May 21, 2007

Anonymous democracyisdead said...

And your point is ????????
We have a Leader, a Prime Minister, elected by nobody.
I trust you are satisfied with the current status quo. Many thousands of us are not.....
Nice to see the McCarthyists out too.Yeah, I think I know who "Cindy" is......a week is a longtime in politics. And this is turning into a nightmare.

1:35 am, May 21, 2007

Blogger Benjamin said...

Luke is thankfully not proposing the Swedish system: good, because it is not democratic.

Luke is rather more happy with the Labour Party system which is ostensibly more democratic but in the case of Gordon less so.

It's really rather simple. If you support the right of people to vote in contested elections, then you are a democrat. In the case of Brown, Luke supported those who took away votes from members and trade unionists.

The neat little game played was this:

The "nominations" process was actually trated like a vote by the PLP to endorse Brown as the only candidate, Communist style. In such a situation, notice how some basics of democracy were ignored:

The "ballot" of nominations was open, not secret (why?) and drawn out over a period of time.

Those two factors COMBINED is a perfect situation to ramp up support for Brown, and Brownites put pressure on the PLP to get over the 308 mark.

So as such the PLP nominations process, which was supposed to be the first step of a wider democratic process, was used to simply forestall democracy. This after 13 years with no contested leadership elections or debates!

For some of us the basic principles of democracy rank higher than machine politics so enthusiastically embraced by Luke Akehurst.

2:33 am, May 21, 2007

Anonymous billy said...

Benji - aren't you a Lib Dem?

There can be no doubt the British Labour system is more democratic than the Swedish Social Democrat model. At least our election process is completely transparent, hence why some of the more bonkers McDonnellites are so angry at Cruddas (who they somehow imagined was best mates with McDonnell) for not nominating their great white hope that they are now enthusiastically supporting right-wing Blair loyalist Hilary Benn! If it had been a secret 'consultative' excercise they wouldn't know who to blame in the PLP. At least our method keeps everybody accountable.

8:32 am, May 21, 2007

Blogger Benjamin said...


The PLP's job is to nominate candidates to a democratic election.

If only one candidate is nominated, Communist style, and the election is cancelled, that is clearly undemocratic - there is no other way of describing it.

After 13 years of one leader, its only right for a democratic party to hold a leadership election involving the party - irrespective of any forecasts of how far Brown was in the lead. There is a very basic principle of democracy here.

It's clear that the PLP nomination process was treated as "a vote for Gordon" and a loyalty test, even though that is not what nomination is about.

But note how the ballot was not secret. Secret ballots are a basic principle of democracy, as I am sure you'll agree.

8:49 am, May 21, 2007

Anonymous sam said...


I don't think anyone thought Cruddas was best mates with McDonnell. The issue is:

a) the Cruddas team strung the McDonnell team along for weeks, promising a deal to swap MPs and get McDonnell on the ballot paper;

b) Cruddas has claimed to be in favour of re-involving grassroots members and regenerating the Labour party - but him and his supporters nominated Brown and thereby helped to ensure that members had no say over who their leader was.

There are also other issues but I don't think I'm at liberty to discuss them as yet. However, I believe they will all become clear in due course.

9:00 am, May 21, 2007

Anonymous sam said...

Furthermore, "Billy", I suggest that the Cruddas Team go on a charm offensive with McDonnell supporters - rather than doing their best to antagonise them at the moment. They seem to be relishing the fact they're going to lose huge numbers of votes - not something I'd go about doing if I'd been flatlining in polls of members at about 10% for the past few months.

9:01 am, May 21, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Who cares what Compass say? Or think? they 'do' very little to support what they say or think.

There was a very excellent Fabian pamphlet about the Swedish party which had been getting 50 year runs in power and very few leadership changes.

But the greatest thing was the political education, the systematic training up of members in general and representatives in particular, the strongest links between movement and party.

The British Labour Party is a hell of a long way away from that model.

But the left and the broad left in the party should heal itself before going after people that used the selectoral system perfectly to win the thing.

If the boot were on the other foot I don't think McDonnellites would have ceased from mental strife nor would their swords rest in their hands ... until some right wing challenger had been killed off. Change the system, reasonably. Change the tactics so there's a chance to win next time.

9:33 am, May 21, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

Yes, while we were aiming for the magic '45', we little realised that Brown was aiming for the magic '308', and with the exciting, Big Brother-esque regular interim totals, the whole thing was reduced to a very boring game show.

We now have the absurd spectacle of Brown having 'hustings' on his own, and having to demonstrate his 'big clunkig fist' on members of the public!

9:53 am, May 21, 2007

Blogger grimupnorth said...

If I liveto see another leadership election (Brown may not allow it of course) the ballot MUST be secret. The fact that it wasn't was a masterstroke of manipulation. I just remain disgusted at these "hustings" and the craven PLP.The only people to come out of this well are the left MPs who weren't cowed by Brown and the two left candidates who in their ideological innocence thought Brown would welcome a contest which he couldn't really lose in the interests of a debate and an election "with a smile on its face." How far away that seems now.....

12:20 pm, May 21, 2007

Blogger Bill said...


it's a nomination process, so it can't be secret, but you could put a cap on the number of nominators, 45 and only 45?

1:08 pm, May 21, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favourite - when their youth organisation held a vote on expelling Trot entryists and then expelled anyone who voted against on the basis that if you were in favour of Trotskyist entryism you were not a social democrat. Quite bloody right. Would have saved me a lot of wasted time in the 1980s.

4:03 pm, May 21, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

Bill - an upper limit could be a good idea. Accepting CLP or Union nominations as something other than 'supporting nominations' is another. Also, while it's important that we can see who nominated whom after the event, I'm not sure it's the best thing in the world for us to get 'scores on the doors' every twelve hours during the process...

6:17 pm, May 21, 2007


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