Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Buy a prime minister

Forget about buying Peerages (actually, don't, but you know what I mean). Martin Kettle:
This time, however, the new prime minister will be chosen by Labour members and affiliates through the party's electoral college system. It means that 200,000 Labour members and several million mainly trade union affiliates will ballot to choose Blair's successor. That means there will be an election campaign, which means in turn that someone will pay for the campaign.

In its way, it will be a revolutionary moment in British party politics. And the most revolutionary thing about it is that, both in theory and practice, it is an opportunity for those who bankroll the candidates to purchase themselves instant influence and favours with the man who will be running the country. It will be Buy a PM time.
So, who will be bankrolling Gordon's leadership campaign? Is that why they want a coronation, they can't afford it yet?
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Bob Piper said...

Kettle's theory is fatally flawed. In the past all the prospective PM had to do was to bribe a sufficient number of MPs with an offer of a government position, a place in the whips office, or a juicy place on an appropriate select committee. Extending the franchise makes it much more difficult to 'buy' the position of Prime Minister. Now trade union members (not General Secretary's seeking enoblement) who pay into their union's political fund will have one-person, one-vote ballots on who the Party leader is. As Kettle acknowledges, this will involve millions of people potentially casting their vote. That is no more 'Buying a PM' than a General Election campaign whereby all political parties offer sweeteners to the electorate in the hope of attracting their votes. This will not be 'Buying a PM' time. Much more an exercise in party political democracy.

MatGB said...

Bob; surely it'll be both? Note, I'm not actually agreeing with him, just pointing it out for people to read.

Persuading people to vote for you costs money in some form or another, you need to campaign. Ergo, some sort of bankroll is needed, right?