Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Blair's coronation plans - party democracy matters

Gordon Brown:
"Tony Blair said last night that he was going to organise it in a stable and orderly way."
Does anyone else read that as if they're planning a coronation, no election, no party democracy?

I intensely dislike Blair's Govt, as I've just said in comments here:
[I'm] one of the archetypally "betrayed" former Blair supporters; I thought, when he came in, the whole "big tent" consensus etc, that he was going to be a great reforming PM, that we'd finally get a fixed constitution, honest politics, debate leading to consensus.

Instead we've got more and more spin. Like I've said already, watching Gordon closely; if he does succeed (and it's him or Reid? ouch), then if he really does start implementing the Power stuff and do some genuine changes, my current very anti stance may change.

Voted Labour in 2001. If Blair's Labour hadn't played to the gallery ever since 7/7 I probably wouldn't be as angry with the whole mess.
There was very little I disagreed with in the 1997 Labour manifesto; it didn't go far enough on some issues, but overall it looked good. I was less keen on the 2001 plans, and had many more objections to 2005 (ID Cards being one), but they were "better than the other lot" given the LibDems were in 3rd and couldn't win regardless.

The biggest betrayal, to me, is the failure in the constitutional radicalism. Tony promised so much, yet has delivered very little. Referendum on electoral reform? Devolutionary settlement? Reform to House of Lords? All are linked. It looks like they're now moving to elect the Lords. Bishop Hill:
Firstly, the Seventeenth amendment, allowing for the direct election of senators, was a mistake. Before this amendment the Senators were chosen by the state legislators. This effectively gave local government a voice in central government, and allowed the senate to block the centralising tendencies of the Washington machine. The campaign to Elect the Lords may therefore be misguided: fine, do away with the power of the Prime Minister to choose peers, but let the elections not be direct. We place far too much faith in directly elected politicians - a surprising failing on our part when we have such bitter experiences of them. Indirect elections, while superficially "less democratic" will be a better defence against centralisation and the authoritarianism that will follow it.
This mimics something I've already argued here and here, we don't need an elected Lords, we need an effective Lords. We need to sort the constitution out. Gordon seems to be making the right noises (note the Labour MP that attended the Power Conference is a known Brownite iirc).

But coronation? Leadership elections are good for both party democracy and party membership, it proves that being a part of something is worth something. Remember I (re)joined the Lib Dems (with many reservations over some of their policies) as a result of their leadership contest. I still don't do partizan, I remain and openly describe myself as a socialist, but Labour? Abandoned its core, and is now losing it's periphery.

If the membership doesn't reclaim their party from Blair, then it'll be more than a local council electoral meltdown.

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