Tuesday, June 12, 2012
LabourList.org, the website for grass roots Labour members, carries out an annual survey asking readers about the “state of the party”.
It’s not very surprising that this time round it has found members believe there is a “fixing” problem when the party chooses candidates to fight seats. Some 59pc of the 815 polled said it was an issue. Only 17pc said it was not.
Part of that will come from men who get passed over for selection when the party imposes an all women shortlist, as happened in Norwich North. Meanwhile it is well known that those with powerful friends in a political party tend to get a shot at the best seats.
Cameron has his A-listers which have caused consternation in their time, but Labour’s system is often a little less transparent – the politically geeky amongst you will remember what happened with Harriet Harman’s husband Jack Dromey in Leyton and Wansted back in 2009 and with Peter Mandelson’s protégé Tristram Hunt in Stoke on Trent in the same year.
Labourlist is campaigning for change and I know other Labour activists I’ve spoken to at conferences in recent years have also been concerned at the lack of democracy in the party, something which Ed Miliband has promised to address.
The thing is that the survey also showed Miliband’s popularity is increasing. Two months ago 30pc of Labourlist readers thought the leader was doing an “excellent” or “good” job – now that figure is 61pc.
So the question is, now that Miliband has some wind in his sails, is he really going to want to make a change that sees him relinquish power over who sits on the benches behind him?