Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tory Primaries

BBC News went to one of the new 'open primaries' being held by the Tory Party to select some of their candidates in winnable seats. The idea of the open primary is that anyone can come along and vote for the next Tory candidate, thus giving them a wider base of support than if they had just been chosen by the party gerontocracy. An earlier primary in Battersea produced a win for the excellent Jane Ellison, a forthright One Nation Tory who can expect to be much more in tune with the new Tory mood than her many detractors (she was vilified on the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog).

The BBC, meanwhile, went along to Watford to watch a similar event. Television images, of course, are misleading, but I have to say that experiment sounds as if it should be politically exciting, I didn't see much evidence of that in the Watford case. Hardly a huge meeting, attendees looking as if they might be pretty well the party membership and not much more, and a rather uninspiring bunch of candidates. A bloke in glasses won.

Watford notwithstanding, it is an interesting idea. The parties have declining memberships and need to do something to rejuvenate political interest. It is debatable how many non-party members are really interested in attending candidate selection meetings, and the evidence thus far suggests not many.

By the way, Hazel Blears, Labour's diminutive chairman, is desperately touting for members by telling people on the party website that membership brings the glorious chance of voting for the next prime minister - a vote which, on present form, will be held on the Stalinist principle of having just one candidate. She couldn't be more interested in rounding up support for the deputy leadership election could she - in which she might just be a possible contender???

2 comments:

Chris Wotton said...

It got me to join...

Lestaki said...

Open primaries, eh? An odd idea, but it sounds good in principle. You've noted the main problem, naturally, voter apathy. To me, this seems to be a return (maybe not, were we ever away?) to more individualist politics, by moving power from the selectorate and to the people. The problem is, of course, that "the people" here means those who can bother to turn up, and so we can still get results out of sync with the average voter- quite possibly to candidates even less likely to win than anyone chosen by the grand strategists. I'm on the fence with this one. We'll see how things go.

-M. Pester