Tuesday, August 18, 2015

British politics goes all Canadian. Results, well, what would you expect?

Can't say I've been following it  closely, but following the re-election of the Conservative Party in Britain, the Labour Party has gone into a leadership contest. They are doing it Canadian-rules -- indeed, worse than Canadian rules in some respects.
The Canadian candidate
They have made the leadership selection a Canadian-style vote-buying contest, in which anyone who buys a vote ("membership," they call it) can vote for the new party leader.  And they have added on an odd idea similar to one the Canadian Liberals used recently: now even non-members can buy a vote:
All full party members get a vote, as do members of affiliated unions (who have to register with the party) and anybody who wants to pay £3 to become a “Labour supporter”. To this day, I’m not entirely clear on the purpose of the latter (a revenue stream, or a means to generate data) but it was a half baked scheme not only open to abuse at the margins, but worse, open to the perception of mass abuse.
One result is that many British Conservative supporters are happily laying out £3 (sometimes many times over) to support the candidate they see as the most unelectable of the potential Labour leaders, and the one with the least support among the elected Labour MPs he will have to lead.

The more important result will be to shift another parliamentary democracy more toward the model long established in Canada, in which party leaders are not accountable to the people's elected representatives (because not chosen by them) and equally not accountable to those who did select him/her (because the moment the leadership race ends, the "memberships" and "supporterships" become meaningless).

It's amazing the hold this perversion of parliamentary democracy continues to have. The LGM contributor quoted above simultaneously notes the abuse built into the process -- and accepts it as just part of the process.

Duffy scandal analogy? Sure. In a real parliamentary democracy, with leadership accountability to caucus, it would only have taken a couple of cabinet ministers or a clique of Tory backbenchers to observe that the whole Senate thing the PMO was orchestrating was both disgusting and counter-productive to the party's interests (as opposed to the PMO's) -- and the whole thing would have been knocked on the head.

Photo source
Follow @CmedMoore