I had a moment or two to spare, so I thought that I might see what our Conservative friends are up to. And fascinating it was too...
ConservativeHome is running a piece on the way Conservative Central Office has "stitched up" their selection process for the European Parliament, then withheld the results data from members. There are suggestions that ballot papers didn't go out to all members, that candidates were barred from campaigning, and that the process was rigged in favour of women.
Add to this the fact that the incumbent MEPs went through a separate process at Regional level to decide which order they would appear on the ballot paper - a process run by a regional committee without reference to the membership - and the sense of a political party that can't trust its members emerges.
I'm not actually going to take this opportunity to gloat - our own process was far from flawless - but am rather saddened that Conservative members are seemingly being denied an opportunity to involve themselves in selecting those purporting to represent them.
Political parties suffer from a declining sense of connection to the public. One of the ways they can overcome that is to rebuild their membership base, reversing decades of decline, and encouraging people to join, and even put themselves forward for public office is a core part of that. If, on the other hand, a remote clique deny ordinary members that right, they perhaps shouldn't be surprised if the politically active go elsewhere to express themselves.
I wish Tim Montgomerie and the ConservativeHome participants every good fortune in winning their battle for greater democracy within the Conservative Party. It isn't in anyone's interests to see the politics of the closed shop be successful, regardless of party...
Thanks for your support on this one. I hadn't checked the blog for a while, so congratulations on the other significant developments. All the best.
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