Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Party members – what are we for?

At least one blogger was miffed by my comment on another site in which I suggested that "Labour members should have, at most, no hand in policy and decision making!". I made it apropos the NEC elections and the election of a bunch of wishful-thinkers to that august body; it was intended to be a little tongue-in-cheek. Actually the vast majority of Labour members demonstrated a sensibly mature attitude to their representatives on the NEC by abstaining.

Some members think that payment of their subscription entitles them to huge input over party policy. This seems to me to be fairly close to an attempt to buy influence. It is quite right that those dedicated souls who have been prepared to work for years to establish their positions and to build up alliances should have the greatest influence over policy.

The great bulk of members can hope, at best, to provide encouragement to those senior party members who best represent their views. It cannot be otherwise, there are so many of us. If the party leader were to spend just five minutes discussing policy with each member and did nothing else it would take him more than eight years to complete the task!

And members should always keep in mind that they almost certainly don’t represent the views of ‘normal’ people, those tens of millions of strange Britains who don’t want to join any party. They are likely to find our obsessions and our certainties a major turn off.

There’s a nice little comment piece by Alice Miles in the Times today about the problems David Cameron is having with Tory members and associations. "Sometimes a little less democracy is in order" she starts, "Mr Cameron ought to recognise, as Labour once had to, that trying to persuade local parties to change has failed." Some of her words about Tory bigots might equally apply to a few members of other parties "They put off any voter not one of theirs already. ..... Yes, they pop leaflets through doors, but .... they have an immeasurable negative [effect], every time they knock on a door, appear on television or select another candidate just the same as the one before him and the one before him".

6 Comments:

At 21:07, Blogger Bob Piper said...

I missed your other piece I'm afraid, but if you don't think Party members should be involved in determining Party policy... what do you think they should do? What does 'provide encouragement' mean for heavens sake?

I find it quite staggering that you seem to perceive party members as some sort of fodder for our wiser and time-served colleagues who have pushed themselves into positions. I don't want the party leader to spend 5 seconds talking to me about his policies... I want him to spend 5 years listening to what ours are... that is why he is elected Leader.

 
At 21:39, Blogger Hughes Views said...

The clue as to a leader's true role is in his title.....

 
At 09:09, Blogger Bob Piper said...

Presumably Joe Stalin, Adolf hitler and Pol bloody Pot were brilliant 'Leaders' then.

 
At 10:16, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Congratulations Bob, you’re the first person on my little blog to provide any evidence for the truth of Godwin's Law

 
At 10:02, Blogger Bob Piper said...

Very good 'get out' ... but it doesn't answer the point.

 
At 00:34, Blogger El Tom said...

'The Labour party is a democratic socialist party, which means that we try to do whatever people generally want, er you know, and all that.

We believe in a society where, we um, go for whatever is generally popular with th public... when we can. Wherre people live in solidarity, and whatever you really want. er. Most of you, that is. Why are we here again?'

 

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