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

My Government Would Compel You to Vote

Whether or not you were pleased with the outcome of the recent vote on Scottish independence – and the odds suggest that you probably were – one thing we should all be happy about is the level of engagement and the voter turnout.

84% of the eligible population turned out to vote in the Scottish referendum. That’s a higher proportion than for any election in the United Kingdom since universal suffrage in 1918. It’s well above the 65% for the 2010 General Election or paltry 15% for the elections of regional Police Commissioners.

It makes sense that as engagement increases, so too will turnout. But might it not also follow that a higher turnout will bring higher levels of engagement?

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