Thursday, 28 May 2009

Jowell backs Labour primaries

Stuart White's post against open primaries for candidate selection has generated some interesting discussion on the pros and cons.

The Guardian today - trailing a speech she will give at Demos after the European Elections - reports that Tessa Jowell will call for Labour to open candidate selection to party supporters as well as members. (It sounds as though Jowell is advocating is what Anthony Painter calls 'closed primaries' though perhaps something like 'supporter primaries' would be a better description).

The newspaper reports that Jowell will quote Ben Brandzel's argument in the recent Fabian pamphlet 'The Change We Need.

She has been inspired by the writing of the political activist Ben Brandzel, a veteran of US progressive politics. She will quote him as saying: "Mass movements open to anyone … will always be pulled towards the commonsense centre. It's why Wikipedia can self-police for accuracy, why Obama's open forums never seriously embarrassed the candidate and why the London citizens' agenda called for things like ensuring the Olympic Village creates public housing – not erecting statues to Che."

This was the issue on which I disagreed with Luke Akehurst's fear that "the Trots" will kill a Labour party which tries to open up. This leads to a fear of change among the top-down tendency in New Labour. Jowell will back Brandzel's argument that "it is through widening the circle of participation, not narrowing it, that we best guard against such risks".

1 comment:

John said...

bad idea. At least have a labour party referendum on it.