Rejoice! The first exercise in the internal democracy of party-within-a-party Progress is now complete. The new strategy board they’ve introduced to answer the pressure for openness, democracy and transparency has been elected. Considering its powers are very limited, a 30% turnout in the members section (there are also sections for parliamentarians and councillors) is not bad. And in their announcement of the result, Progress also reveal that they have 1,417 members eligible to vote of whom 239 are known to be councillors.
The winning ‘rank & file’ members are:
- Mandy Telford — ex-President of NUS, SpAd to Tess Jowell and, by coincidence, married to Progress Vice-Chair John Wodcock MP
- Hopi Sen — photogenic blogger, dieting expert and former party press officer
- Joan Ryan — former MP for Enfield North, former Minister for ID Cards, over-assiduous expenses-claimer (and equally assiduous in deleting Wikipedia references to this prior to exposure) and serial rebel against Gordon Brown
- Joe Mann – deputy general secretary of the trade union Community, and a member of Labour’s national executive.
The winning councillors are Florence Nosegbe (Lambeth Council and unsuccessful candidate for Labour’s national executive), Claire Reynolds (Tameside Council and, by coincidence, married to Progress Vice-Chair Jonathan Reynolds MP), Rachel Hodson (Doncaster Council and adviser to Caroline Flint) and Paul Brant (Liverpool Council deputy leader).
All these people, plus parliamentarians Oona King, Gloria De Piero, Nick Smith and Phil Wilson, are unfortunately not to be trusted with much responsibility. Their role is merely that of a rubber stamp:
- to approve the appointment of Progress’ chair, vice-chair and honorary president for a full parliamentary term;
- to approve any endorsements made by Progress in internal party elections;
- to approve Progress’ overall political strategy.
and to appoint one representative on any interview panel constituted to appoint a new director of Progress. Upon the good is greatness thrust.
Needless to say the announcement was greeted with the usual Blairite flutter of mutual twitter excitement and congratulations.
As a fully paid up member of Progress, I can vouch for the fact that the elections were conducted in an impeccable maner. Exemplary in fact, just as I imagine are the elections for the Hong Kong Legislative Council. But I wouldn’t call that democracy either.