Make yourself Unpopular in 3 easy steps

28Dec10

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?

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9 Responses to “Make yourself Unpopular in 3 easy steps”

  1. Brilliant! Absolutely spot on.

  2. David Miliband lost a fair fight. Get over it.

  3. 4 John Smith

    Utter tosh. All the candidates knew the system when they signed up for the contest. David lost. Ed isn’t up to much right now either. Neither would Ed B, Andy or Diane. This suggests not that we need a new electoral system, but perhaps we need some new faces to elect. The DMili campaign was one of the nastiest campaigns of all, and it is sickening that Douglas Alexander has managed to retain such a prominent position despite having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Time to accept you lost, guys.

  4. 5 Alex Sobel

    I think you are criticising the college mainly, I only read a bit of criticism of Ed kicking of a debate about party reform which will take 2 years or more and Peter Hain is overseeing. I wouldn’t post a blog saying it’s critical of Ed when it is not. We should try and build a party where we get on and can have a debate without falling out. In the real world of party members it feels like that, the internet does feel a bit different.

    The country is being destroyed by the Tories. Let’s engage in a positive spirit of debate about both internal and external matters for the Labour Party.

    So Kate a good post, but lets not get too personal unless it really merits it.

  5. 6 timjnx

    I agree with how you felt. The party members didn’t get who they voted for, but we have to accept that and move on. The fact that I get an extra vote for being a member of CSM seems strange to me. That I could get 2 more votes by joining the Fabians and SERA seems unreal.

    I would like to see a one member, one vote system in place, perhaps with discounted membership for members of trade unions that pay the political levy. What do people think of that?


  1. 1 “David lost. Get over it, you sore loser.” « AlysAnalysis
  2. 2 The suppression of dissent « Her sins were scarlet, but her blog was Red.
  3. 3 “David lost. Get over it, you sore loser.” | Occasionally, I blog.

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