A few thoughts on open primaries

August 5, 2009 3:05 pm

Author:

Share this Article

By Don Paskini

It’s very impressive that over 16,000 people in Totnes voted to choose the Tory candidate for the next election in an “open primary”. Normally, about 100-300 people are involved in these kinds of selections. Couple of thoughts:

* Open primaries give a huge advantage to people who have “proper jobs”. For example, in this case the candidate who was a doctor beat two people who were involved in local government. I think this is broadly a good thing, but it is worth having another look at how much campaigning candidates are allowed to do. If local people are basically making their minds up on the basis of one leaflet per candidate, then parties might end up getting stuck with people who would, in fact, be pretty hopeless candidates and/or MPs.

* Apparently the cost of the whole thing was £40,000. That’s OK for a one-off, but not a good use of resources for parties to adopt as the main way of selecting their candidates (for that amount of money, you could get a full time campaign organiser, office, phone line, risograph etc.) It becomes more feasible if the cost per constituency can be got down to about £3-5,000.

* One way to do this could be for local parties to agree to hold their primaries on the same day and send out the information together and let people choose which primaries to vote in. It would require a culture shift for local parties to work together in this way – but isn’t changing the culture and doing things differently what this is all meant to be about?

This post was first published on Don Paskini’s blog.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment Labour’s Lessons from a Sikh Wedding Season

    Labour’s Lessons from a Sikh Wedding Season

    There’s been a fair bit written about the Sikh community in the nationals in the last few days in relation to Cameron’s political appointments to the Lords and some criticism for Labour for not having any representation from the 700,000 strong Sikh community in its Westminster ranks. Personally I don’t think there’s anything to gain in attacking Cameron for making more diverse appointments, even if the guy may not be as entrenched in the Sikh community as was claimed and […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Where does Labour really stand on a “Health Tax”?

    Where does Labour really stand on a “Health Tax”?

    The front page of today’s FT suggests that the Labour leadership is considering a “Health Tax” as a means of paying for the NHS, reporting(£): “Ed Miliband is to put the NHS at the centre of Labour’s election campaign and is considering an earmarked “health tax” or exempting the health service from deficit reduction to prove that he can deliver a better service. Mr Miliband believes the NHS is rising up the list of voters’ concerns but wants to offer […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Miliband calls for “overarching inquiry into child abuse” – and repeats call for Shaun Wright to step down

    Miliband calls for “overarching inquiry into child abuse” – and repeats call for Shaun Wright to step down

    Ed Miliband has released a statement this morning on the Rotherham child abuse scandal, in which he re-iterates calls for Shaun Wright to resign as South Yorkshire PCC. However, Miliband has gone further today, calling for an “overarching inquiry into child abuse” to examine what went wrong not just in Rotherham, but “in different institutions, in different parts of the country and stretching across different decades”. Here’s the statement in full: This week’s report into the child abuse scandal in […]

    Read more →
  • Comment If a young person’s opinion falls into the political sphere, does it make a sound?

    If a young person’s opinion falls into the political sphere, does it make a sound?

    There’s a lot of talk around the Party at the moment about ‘Generation Y.’ I suppose I fit into that category, although I don’t think I’ve ever used it to describe myself. Gen Y or whatever, what’s become clear to me over the years is that I’m one of the weirder ones. I’ve worked since the age of 16, doing jobs from working behind a pharmacy counter to fundraising in a call centre to translating for a construction company. I’ve […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Why rural areas need free buses

    Why rural areas need free buses

    To have a fully functioning society, bus services in rural areas should be free of charge. For young people seeking employment, education or entertainment, the unwell needing to visit and be visited in hospitals or the elderly wanting to break the loneliness of isolation, public transport is essential. If governments don’t want to spend money on services in rural areas, they should at least provide the means for people who live there to get to them in urban areas. Regular […]

    Read more →