There aren’t many issues politically where I dont have a strong view – yet the use of a primary in candidate selection is one where I really can see both sides of the argument. This is going to be a rambling post (no change there) and I would really welcome some views.
I am a firm believer in the rights of members of political parties – or else you have to ask the question why on earth should you join. One of those rights or at least one of the things you got to be invovled in was the selection of candidates be it for a parliamentary candidate right down to a council candidate.
In recent weeks and indeed months the party has seemingly been moved to favour the use of an open primary. Firstly I guess I have to ask the question are they really open primaries? I always thought that in a proper primary a candidate would have to actively campaign to get the nomination – possibly more so than in the actual election. In this sense the election actually became the primary and not the election if you get what I mean. Your SELECTION was the important thing. The election rumber stamped your victory.
In Totnes people as I understand it were written to and could choose their Tory candidate. Fine – but if as reported it cost £40,000 then frankly is is completely unworkable. When I stood for parliament the local association probably committed to spending a tenth of that on the whole campaign, so you can see how unworkable it is.
But then after the expenses saga, wouldn’t any party be wise to try and invovle the electorate in the selection of a candidate so that they feel some sort of ownership and therefore are much more likely to vote for them – as opposed to hold the view – Well you lot selected em… and you’re all crooked so I’m not going to vote.
Of course as a candidate I have experienced both methods of selection. I have been successful when chosen by members and also unsuccessful. I have (apparently) done really well in one primary but was ultimately unsuccessful. So what does that tell me?
The one nagging feeling I have is that on the one hand the party is constantly wanting current members to increase membership. I have always held the believe that if you are a member of a party you should look to getting funds, getting members and getting votes – everything else is almost secondary.
Now if someone asked me what was the benefit of being a member part of me would seriously think you could get many of the benefits, by NOT being a member, without any of the drawbacks. So where does that leave my thinking with regards the use of primaries. Yes I can see why they are being used. I would be interested to see if there use has actually lead to an increase in memberhsip locally – as if they have the opposite effect – with members feeling neglected and then leaving the party, then come an election when you need ACTIVISTS, who are usually your hardcore membership, they could be counter productive?
What do you think about the use of primaries??