Labour should welcome new members not purge them

Labour’s attempts to block new voters and make them feel unwelcome is lunacy.

The election of a new leader for the Labour Party has sparked a lot of interest, in large part due to new rules for doing so.

The process of electing a political candidate is known as a ‘primary election’. In the UK, such votes are usually reserved for registered party members and known as ‘closed primaries’. This is in contrast to equivalent elections in the United States where, typically, anyone on the electoral role can vote for a party candidate, whether they are members of that party or not. These are called ‘open primaries’. Back here in the UK, the Conservative party have dabbled with open primaries for selecting some of their local MPs, most notably (and successfully) with Sarah Woollaston, the popular GP and MP for Totnes.

Labour have adopted a form of open primary for their current leadership election. You don’t have to be a signed up member of the Labour Party to vote for their new leader, you just need to subscribe to their values and pay £3. Thousands have done so.

Most political parties in the 21st century would kill to have people joining their ranks in droves. The Green Party’s biggest coup before the 2015 General Election was the surprise announcement of their record membership figures and the Liberal Democrats have repeatedly proclaimed the number of new members that have joined since their recent electoral battering. But Labour’s response to this surge has been to cry foul and purge.

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Here’s what you could have won – 2015 General Election Results under Proportional Representation

The results are in for yesterday’s General Election. The Conservative majority was a big surprise but also of note is the fact that UKIP tallied almost 4-million votes whilst only getting a single MP. In contrast, the SNP got less than half the number of votes but have over 50 times the number of MPs.

Equally, the Liberal Democrats who were the biggest losers last night with only 8 MPs left actually got 50% more votes than the SNP, last night’s biggest winners.

This is the First Past The Post System in action.

What would the results have looked like under a Proportional Representation system? That’s a method under which MPs are allocated simply based on how many votes each party gets. Here’s a breakdown… Continue reading

Vote Tomorrow (even if you don’t know what for)

In preparation for tomorrow’s general election, I had been planning a spin-free comparison of the key policy differences between the main parties. A simple list of how much each party would spend or cut in what areas, what laws they would change and such like.

Unfortunately, this has proved very difficult and in many cases impossible. And that’s because none of the parties have actually said what they’re going to do. Their manifestos lack even the most fundamental details of how they would allocate money.

The Conservatives, for example, are planning the greatest reduction in spending of the main parties but the policies they detail in their manifesto would result in a net increase in spending. In other words, they’ve told us about the good stuff but not the bad.

Similarly, one of the Labour Party’s key strengths is supposed to be the NHS but they don’t actually say how much they would spend on it. They also detail all the give aways in their manifesto and few of the take-backs.

And before this makes you run off to UKIP or back to the Lib Dems, none of the other parties are any better.

I don’t agree with Russell Brand’s conclusion that people shouldn’t vote but, for anyone intending not to do so, this deliberate obfuscation by all parties is probably reason enough. It is a disservice to democracy and to the parties’ shame.

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