Seeing coverage of the apparently unhurried steps towards Labour party members having a say in future leadership bids made me want to stop and ask some questions about whether they are telling the full story:
1) Will members have the same say as MPs? And who were the “Senior members” said there was some concern that giving too much weight to the membership vote over the caucus vote? Isn’t the point that MPs are accountable to the
membership? If you think of the caucus as being like the employees and the membership is the Board, then employees don’t get to choose the CEO – in a grown up world you work with who you need to. And if the membership choose
someone presumably they are doing it for a good reason? Could it be that there are some MPs who think there is something to fear from that extra level of accountability to the party grassroots?
2) Will the proportion of the leadership vote assigned to affiliates be shrunk by those within caucus who distrust the union movement? Once again what do MPs fear? This is the Labour party, grounded in the Labour relations movement isn’t it?
3) What will happen to the automatic 2013 vote (year ahead of an election)? Surely this would be the perfect opportunity for the membership and affiliates to illustrate their support for the leader for whom they will be volunteering their time to help elect in 2014? And given that this whole undertaking is designed to empower the party membership then why would you try and sidestep the rules before the ink is dry?
4) How is the winnder in each category determined? Winner takes all? Proportional? We all recognise how the ‘first past the post’ approach establishes bias in the system – that’s why we have MMP!
5) Finally, while I applaud caucus and the party for bringing this to the table they can’t afford to do it in a way that is less than meaningful. Besides, what are caucus afraid of? If all is going well who would want to challenge and open themselves to the sort of scrutiny that brings – especially as they would have to justify their decision to the membership, and the wider public, if things are out in the open. Having chosen to open this topic caucus cannot afford to sell the members short. Who is the winner if the party tears itself apart over this? Short term it may be those within the caucus who are resistant to change, but the long term answer would be National, as they’d retain the Treasury benches for some time to come.