Democracy compared

Anthony Robins posted on Democracy vs efficiency  at The Standard:

Events in England really highlight the different processes of the two main parties. The Conservatives have completed their leadership transition, Labour’s contest has barely begun. Which model is best?

Nor surprisingly Robins thinks Labour is best.

I believe in the Labour model – both here and in the UK – as I think anyone who believes in democracy should.

It depends on what sort of democracy you believe in. Most democracies have some degree of representative democracy – where you elect people to represent you and make decisions for the people – and relatively limited options for direct democracy (where the majority of people make the decisions via votes) beyond occasional elections.

Two little say annoys the hell out of people, but too much say too often can bog down and even paralyse the functioning of a government.

Labour have barely started the challenge process in their (largely) democratic but cumbersome manner – an open selection, with real input from the members.

But there is no doubt that it is cumbersome, it paralysed (and will continue to paralyse) UK Labour at a time when it should have been moving decisively.

Robins understands the problems with a cumbersome democratic process (he doesn’t mention the game playing and manipulation of the processes going on with UK Labour).

There needs to be a counter-narrative. As the UK accepts the “democratic” Brexit vote, it should also accept and celebrate the democratic Labour process. Yes it’s cumbersome, but it involves we the people in politics, when it is obvious that the Tory “closed doors” model has been undermining democratic participation for decades.

This is naive inaccurate partisan bollocks.

Missy commented on Robins’ post yesterday:


I braved the swamp, and dipped my toe (figuratively, not literally) into The Standard. Anthony Robbins has done a post on the differences between the UK Labour leadership and the Conservative Leadership change.

His post however shows exactly how little he has either followed – or understood – the differences. He (naturally) extols the virtues of Labour’s way as being more democratic in that the members can vote, whilst the Conservatives did it behind closed doors quickly in an undemocratic manner (by inference, he didn’t actually state it was undemocratic). Anthony also seems to have overlooked the fact that of the final two candidates Leadsom dropped out, leaving only one candidate, which made it more efficient in terms of getting a new leader in place this time around.

Whilst he acknowledges the Labour party system is cumbersome, he doesn’t seem to think of what may happen if they have to run one of these leadership elections if they are ever in Government.

So lets look at the two ways (as I understand it) that these parties vote for their leaders. (disclaimer: I haven’t read the party rules on either of these parties, and therefore am getting my knowledge from how the media have reported it, so could be wrong on some facts).

Nominations:

Labour: Leaders are nominated to the NEC, requiring a certain percentage of support from the Parliamentary Labour Party, (in this case it worked out to be 50 MPs), so essentially they need to have some support to be nominated.

Conservatives: I am not sure how this happens, but from the way it was done this time it doesn’t look like they actually need to be nominated by anyone, they can just nominate themselves – or rather they declare an interest in standing.

Voting:

Labour: I am not sure exactly, but I believe that Labour run a one member one vote system, so there is no weighting like in NZ.

Conservatives: The Conservatives have a two part vote, the MPs get to vote on the candidates, and after their vote the two that are left go to the membership. This means that the MPs get a say in who their leader will be. I am not sure how many times the MPs vote, this time it was twice, but I am not sure if they would have more if there were more candidates, or less if there were less.

Keeping in mind the leader of the party is leading the MPs it seems eminently sensible that the MPs get a reasonable say in who may end up being the leader, the members after all do not have to spend all week with the leader, nor do they have to work for or with them. Based on this I think the Conservatives have a better system for the election of a leader in that the MPs get a say in who may be the leader, but the membership gets the final say.


 

There are different ways of doing democracy, some better than others, and which is the best may vary in different circumstances.

If a country is in chaos or crisis decisive leadership on behalf of the people can be a far better bet than trying to get thousands or millions of people to understand complex situations and make complex decisions.

 

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1 Comment

  1. The nature of a democracy depends on the nature of the constitutional system in which it operates.

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