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Why is Labour not demanding that the Tories reform?

Ed Miliband at PPF, pic by Mick ArcherEd Miliband is taking some very big risks with his proposals for the union link today. Open selection primaries, which the Blairites are pressing for, are a nonsense if it means members of the general public, the majority of whom are not Labour supporters, are permitted to choose a Labour parliamentary candidate from a list supplied by the party. The 60-70% who are non-Labour will simply choose the one they think they can most-easily beat.

Indeed, why should Labour Party members, registered supporters and levy payers be deprived of the right to choose the person whom they will then be expected to support at the election? That’s one crucial issue that must be faced up to squarely before this appendage from Falkirk is set in stone. But there’s another equally important issue. How will Ed’s proposal for a contracting-in method of paying the political levy be made to work?

Ed’s idea is that instead of a contracting-out system which leaves many levy payers passive and uninvolved, he wants those who pay in to the Labour Party to become active and engaged. If that can be made to happen, it would be a fine result, but it is unlikely to happen until Labour raises its banner with a principled vision and key policy objectives which resonate with and fire up the millions of disengaged voters waiting patiently on the sidelines for a powerful lead on the intentions of the next Labour government.

So how will contracting-in be managed? Already two very senior members of the party with a proud trade union record have turned down Ed’s request to handle it, until now a third, Ray Collins (a Blairite), has accepted. It will require a lot of patience, determination and inspiration in equal measure, and of course above all it will require the full co-operation of the trade unions themselves.

There’s also the vital question of a quid pro quo from the other political parties. Switching to an opt-in system will require legislation. Clegg has already said he will give his support to Miliband for a bill, and the Labour-LibDem combined parties would then have a jority in the House.

Ed should capitalise on that by demanding that to end the cancer of party politics driven by huge donations (which overwhelmingly favours the Tories with their banker and corporate backers), a low limit – say £5,000 – should be placed on donations made over a 5-year period between elections by any individual or organisation – and that handing over money to any other individuals or bodies covertly to give donations whilst keeping within the limit would be a criminal offence. If Miliband and Clegg together pushed that through the House, it would do more to clean up politics than any number of Falkirks.

One Comment

  1. Chris says:

    Well said! Now how do we get Ed to read this….?

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