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.