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Another democratic failure for Labour

September 27th, 2010 Posted in UK Politics by

As reported earlier on this site and also across the media, Labour unions have elected the new Labour leader against the wishes of both the parliamentary and the wider party. Neither MPs nor grass-roots members chose Ed Milliband, but he nonetheless gets to lead the Labour Party.

Fortunately, this is just a blip, right? This sort of thing is unusual; a bizarre result from a complicated electoral college system. Normally, Labour’s internal elections see the candidate with support amongst members chosen, don’t they?

Apparently not! In a somewhat less-widely reported story, Lord Prescott has also been defeated, in his attempt to become Treasurer of the Labour Party, despite winning the popular vote. According to the BBC:

The peer … won most votes from party members but was beaten by Ms Holland’s strong support from trade unions… Ms Holland [is] assistant general secretary of Unite…

Sadly, it seems that last week’s failure of democracy within the Labour Party is not an isolated incident. Rather, it appears that special interest groups continue to have the whip-hand within the Labour Party, at the expense of grass-roots members.

Of course, one can understand why the people who provide 70% of Labour’s income want to control the office of Treasurer (the Tories took the same approach when they appointed Lord Ashcroft to manage their finances), but the grip that the unions hold over the Labour Party can only result in an Opposition even more focused on protecting a handful of millitant, largely-public sector, workers at the expense of the wider working, and especially the non-working, public.

Photographer finds man who can gurn as well as Prescott

Photographer finds man who can gurn as well as Prescott

12 Responses to “Another democratic failure for Labour”

  1. Tristan Says:

    I take it you’re now in favour of FPTP then Tom?

    Neither ‘won the popular vote’ they all fell under 50% of the vote.

    It seems your beef is a rather conservative anti-union sentiment rather than anything else.


  2. Tristan Says:

    Further to the above:
    The Labour Party is meant to represent workers (I say meant to, it doesn’t at all), it was founded with the unions being a major part – so affiliated unions get a say in things.

    Whether you agree or not, its the way the Labour Party is set up so their members votes count.

    The funny thing is that the unions have consistently been on the right of the Labour Party – acting to hold back the left wing of the party (in the membership and especially parliamentary party) consistently through the years.

    Anyway, the point is this is not a failure of democracy, its the exercise of democracy in the structure of the Labour Party – perhaps that gives power to one group more than another (although it gives individual MPs far more say than members or unions).


  3. dougf Says:

    “Anyway, the point is this is not a failure of democracy, its the exercise of democracy in the structure of the Labour Party – perhaps that gives power to one group more than another (although it gives individual MPs far more say than members or unions).”

    Well this may be true and is certainly interesting in the framework of discussing esoteric ‘democratic’ conventions within organizational structures, BUT the main point here is that this means that the Labour Party is,by default, a captive of ONE special interest.
    It spent decades trying to run away as far as possible from that factoid and more importantly from that image. And why did it do that ? Because it was dying politically as its core vote became its only vote.

    The Union engineered election of ‘Red Ed’(and yes it will stick to him like crazy glue), will set the Party back 20 years. The pending wave of public service union strikes upon which Labour will be hoist upon its own petard, will set it back to the 1970′s.

    “It’s worse than a crime; it’s a mistake.”— Talleyrand.

    Exactly so.


  4. Tom Papworth Says:

    Tristan,

    I’m not sure how you come to the conclusion that I am “now in favour of FPTP.” It is not the fact that this was an AV referrendum that bothers me, but the fact that even with all the transfers taken into account, Ed Milliband lost the vote amongst the members of the party.

    More clarification on all this may be found in my comment to Andy’s article.

    As regards your point that “its the exercise of democracy in the structure of the Labour Party…”, I must say that I struggle to accept that a system that does not reflect the principle of one-person-one-vote (i.e. where all votes are not equal) is not a failure of democracy (if it is even democracy at all).


  5. Ziggy Says:

    Hey you Orange Tories didn’t win the popular vote at the general election & yet your in government helping to screw the most vulnerable in society


  6. Tom Papworth Says:

    Ziggy,

    It’s spectacular how you can fit so many errors into such a short sentence.


  7. Ziggy Says:

    I think the mistake was that six million people voted for what they believed to be a ‘progressive’ party only to get a bunch of Orange Tories


  8. Tom Papworth Says:

    And the stupid comments just keep on coming.

    I can’t be bothered to respond to any more trolling. Rule 14 applies.


  9. Ziggy Says:

    And the Orange Tory blog posts keep being posted


  10. Psi Says:

    Ziggy, it’s not actually stardust and the NHS can provide treatments to help you break your dependence…


  11. Ziggy Says:

    i’m wondering if we’ll have the NHS once the Orange Tories are done


  12. fanmics Says:

    when democracy has failed, it is difficult for the labour party to get the trust from the public. let’s see if this problem can be resolved as soon as possible


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