Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Chuka's Burkean stance

I have conducted an analysis of the CLP nominations, published over at Left Foot Forward. The evidence-based progressive blog has firmly established itself as an essential guide to inside number-crunching of every element of the electoral college.

It particularly shows how influential MP nominations have proved in influencing CLP nominations. I noted that:

The most important example of a switcher CLP was David Miliband’s victory in the Bassetlaw primary, because it also converted John Mann MP’s own vote. None of the other CLP nominations carry any weight in the electoral college. The scale of participation made it unlikely that the MPs preference would prove decisive, as was most often the case elsewhere.

This did generate a comment from Joanne Milligan claiming that .. "I’m led to believe that Chuka Umunna and Kate Hoey have said they will cast their MP vote for the candidate who won their CLPs supporting nomination".

That seemed worth checking out. But I now have it on very good authority that the rumour is false. Chuka is supporting Ed Miliband for the leadership, having nominated him for the role.

A Streatham party member here on the office research team confirms that Ummuna did not make any such promise, but simply consulted members before his own nomination.

It may be that our MPs for Bassetlaw and Streatham take different views of Edmund Burke's famous speech to the electors of Bristol of 1774. Perhaps this might inform their contributions to future debates about party democracy.

John Mann's initiative was a creative and novel one. It also enfranchised party supporters in Bassetlaw who will not have a vote in the contest, asking them to influence (and indeed determine) their MPs vote.

The Streatham CLP decided its nomination in a traditional way. It seems to me that Umunna's position is a pluralist one. Presumably, the point of Labour's electoral college is that the views of MPs, members and affiliates are all taken into account. If CLPs mandate their MPs, it rather defeats the purpose of the electoral system we use.

1 comment:

Jo Milligan said...

Hi Sunder

I'm very happy to accept that I may have been misinformed about promises made by the Lambeth MPs about their intention to cast their MP vote on the basis of their CLPs supporting nomination.

And I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Burke speech of 1774 - great oratory espousing principles which have endured. Superfluous to the point I made though (regardless of its accuracy) and a little disingenuous as I doubt there are any CLPs or members who would attempt to mandate their MPs in any vote - House of Commons or party elections.

Burke's speech does, however, raise issues of modernity. He argues that access to information, knowledge and argument on any issue is of import in being able to form a considered opinion.

'But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?'

Thankfully, it is no longer the preserve of the Burke's of this world to have access to the knowledge, information and argument needed to form considered opinion. Access to education, libraries, a revolution in communication mediums and tools, including the media, open government and freedom of information have been great levellers.

Burke provides other arguments about the need for representatives to have the freedom to exercise personal judgement and suggests they are somehow more able to see the bigger picture but I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on whether there is any knoweldge, information or argument about the Labour leadership contest or candidates that is the preserve of MPs only?