During the Labour conference, Armstrong patronisingly wrote “delegates were so blinded and so intoxicated by the prospect of securing a say in the election of future leaders that they did not think through the consequences”. Old Tories hate democracy. But it’s disappointing that Garner made the same mistakes. Democracy doesn’t weaken, it strengthens – ask the Greens.
Every year, every single year, the Greens co-leaders face a vote on their leadership from party delegates. It doesn’t require a caucus trigger, it doesn’t just happen once every three years. And it isn’t destabilising. In fact, it’s stabilising because any leadership challenger has one legitimate time a year to make that challenge. No stab in the back coups in the Greens. Actually, no coups at all. The Greens’ leaders have been putting their leadership on the line year after year for 22 years without a leadership spill.
In fact, that’s how any society you might be part of works. You go along to the AGM and the office-holders are voted on. Occasionally, there’s a challenge and its resolved one way or the other. If the chairmanship of the Waikikimaukau Golfers Association can be decided thusly, why can’t the leadership of the organisations at the heart of our democracy?
As for the claim that a newly elected Prime Minister could be spilled – please, get real. A leader who leads you to victory is like a minor deity. Are all those newly-minted ministers and first time MPs who have their jobs mainly thanks to the success of one person going to turn around and sack that person? In reality, the vote would be another chance for the new PM to bask in success as the caucus and party cheer them.
Launching a coup is a very, very serious thing that MPs don’t do lightly. If you can’t get a definite 40% in caucus against Labour’s weakest leader since Palmer (and at least Palmer was authoritative on constitutional stuff), how are you going to get 40% against a newly victorious PM? Can you name me a time, ever, when the caucus, let alone the party, of a newly elected PM would have voted them out within 3 months of winning? … except Bolger?
The problem with Labour’s reforms isn’t that they are too democratic, it’s that they’re not democratic enough. They’ve gone with a model where caucus is a gatekeeper and then over-powered in the actual vote. This will be used by the old guard to shield Shearer and themselves from the views of their own party. The Green co-leaders have no such protection, and it means they can never turn their backs on their members.
If Shearer has turned over a new leaf and is now strong and dynamic, then he will give the party the opportunity to vote on his leadership in February. But I bet the anti-democratic old guard won’t let him. And isn’t that more destabilising in the long-run?