Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Delay, a bureaucrat’s best friend. Time for my twelve bore, I think.

One of the things about change is that it seems to be quite scary at first sight. Something might happen, after all, and this is the very point of a bureaucracy, i.e. to prevent scary things from happening.

Following from my comments of yesterday, there appears to be increasing support for the notion that the endorsement rules require pruning – with an axe, especially for Regional list selections (the argument for PPC selections is much less clear). I have, coincidentally, been discussing the matter with a small number of senior colleagues who will, for their own protection and through my heightened sense of discretion, remain anonymous.

My view is that we should make changes while the events of the past year are fresh in our memories. However, a contrary view has been expressed which notes that we won’t be doing this again for five years, so why rush? Why indeed? Actually, for the rather obvious reasons that;
  • Change is always more effective when you’re clear in your own mind why you’re making it – distance does not usually lend either enchantment or clarity.
  • Any candidate thinking about running for Europe in 2014 (and there will be some, won’t there – is anyone listening? Hello? Hello?), would be better organised for knowing what the Rules are well in advance.
First on my list would be to allow endorsements for Regional list elections. This means that you don’t have to worry about blogs, Facebook, podcasts and the like. The only question would be about defamation, something that is, by its very definition, subject to interpretation. If you assume that we retain the self-policing element introduced for e-mails and websites in this European selection, candidates and members will take care of this for the Returning Officer, whose role will be to make rulings.

What this means is that you can then turn the emphasis around, so that anyone is free to comment on their blog, build Facebook groups or whatever. A candidate remains responsible for the actions of his campaign team, thus allowing a Returning Officer to act where negative campaigning erupts. In turn, if a candidate claims the support of a named individual, their opponents can question it and that support can then be evidenced as required. Failure to do so indicates that the candidate is probably lying and should be disqualified anyway – if they can lie about something like that, what else are they lying about? Indeed, do we really want candidates with a deficiency in the honesty department anyway (the correct answer is no, just in case you thought that this was a trick question).

And in a single bound, the Returning Officer was free to spend more time with his fiancĂ©e, his cats and his BlackBerry…

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