Make yourself Unpopular in 3 easy steps
1. Gain a reputation as an anti-Blairite and find yourself somewhat disliked by the Blairites.
2. Gain a reputation as a staunch Brownite and find yourself somewhat disliked by both the Blairites and the Anti-Blairites.
3. Write a blog that is not overly keen on Ed Miliband, and find yourself likely disapproved of by the New Generation.
Two down, one to go. So let’s go for it.
I am rarely evangelical about any topic. I will criticise anyone. I criticised Gordon Brown on the 10p tax rate, I criticised Paramore on the second half of Brand New Eyes, I criticised the student protesters on violence, I criticised the Labour Party on the electoral college, and guess what? I’m about to criticise Ed Miliband.
I’ll take you back to the point just a teensy bit prior to that. At the start of the leadership campaign, I liked Ed Miliband. I worked for him. But, according to the membership of the Labour Party, David Miliband won the election. I was sat in the announcement. I heard the reactions, I had fingernail marks in my cheeks – but this didn’t feel like a victory for anyone. This felt like a victory had been stolen from David Miliband, created by the Unions.
There are two problems with this – one, it gave the right of the party a real reason to dislike the very left-wing ties we have with the unions. I love the Unions. But finally, finally, the right of the party (most of whom, admittedly, supported David Miliband) had a REASON to disapprove of the Unions. This makes their arguments powerful, it gives them reason and substance. The party needs the unions, but is also a broad church – and because of their apparent power, they could be disconnected and disregarded by half of the congregation: creating separation and a divided Labour Party. Perfect. I’ve been waiting for the 80s to come back.
The second problem is simply a question of fairness. I saw how hard the Ed Miliband volunteers worked. I can only imagine that the volunteers for every candidate worked just as hard. It seems almost ridiculously unfair that the vote, after all this hard work, should be decided by electors whom the volunteers had no details for. No campaign team had union membership lists, or SS membership lists. There could be no canvassing, no convincing, no ability to show how hard a team could work – from any team.
The introduction of the new voting system in 1993 was a revolutionary breakthrough; but it was not enough. At the time of the leadership election, I was a member of the Labour Party ; as such, I was able to cast one vote. Harriet Harman was able to cast 7. I think the record I’ve seen so far is someone with 13 votes, and this, in a democracy, is of course ridiculous. I would be a member of many more socialist societies if I had the money, but I simply don’t. And I would not want the extra vote. It feels like cheating.
(For interest purposes, I would now have 5 votes. Woo.)
The Unions are an incredible asset to our party and are the foundation it is built on – but what we have to remember is that they are not members of our party. The most suitable leader for the Unions, and the most suitable leader for the members are often different; and why shouldn’t they be? Whilst our interests are similar they are rarely exactly the same. The unions represent one section of society. The party must, if it wishes to be in power, represent everyone.
Members of Unions who agree with the Labour Party should be part of our movement, of course, intrinsically – but they should do it from the inside. Most of the members of Unions (the turnout, by the way, was ridiculously low) who vote in these elections are also members of the Labour Party. Why not make it a requirement? Why not give them incentives to join us? Of course the Unions should be able to back a candidate. But they don’t need an election. If the Labour Party will insist on using a collegiate system of election, then there should only be two colleges : the PLP and the CLP. The party itself.
So, let’s reform the system, says Ed. Great!, says I. Let’s add ANOTHER college of non-members!, says Ed. Oh God, says I.
I simply do not understand this suggestion. In his opening speech, Ed stated he wanted us to become a party of mass membership; I would love to see that too. There’s nothing I love better than engagement. So what on earth is this?
One of the massive pros of being a member of the Labour party is the ability to vote in elections; to have your voice heard and make sure the party truly represents you. That is why we gained so many members over the summer, core supporters finally wanting to make their voice heard. So why, if you want members, make it so that your core supporters can vote in Leadership Elections? Why not persuade them to join the party? Why not lower the cost of joining the party? Our core supporters, like the unions, should be at the heart of the party. Not pushing from the outside in.
At the end of the day, the party needs a voice, like every leadership candidate, particularly the Milibands, promised. But when I am clearly already devoted to the party, and the public and the Unions are shouting too, who’s going to listen to me?
Filed under: Uncategorized | 9 Comments