By way of Snedds (who seems to approve ???) it would appear that Harriet Harman has set out her personal sales pitch for the Deputy Leadership, one that includes such observational gems as…
There will be no national renewal of the Party without the women in the Party as equal partners driving that change.
Err, Harriet. Can I just point out there will be no national renewal of the Party unless everyone is on board as equal partners driving that change. While it certainly important that we have women on board in the process, its also equally important (to me, at least) that we have our ethnic minority members on board and afforded equal status and consideration as well. And our gay, lesbian, bisexual and, indeed, transexual members (I’m sure we must have some). And both our religious and no-religious members. And our [insert category here] members…
You see my point?
Without wishing to dwell overmuch on this particular issue, I note that Harriet also makes the following point:
It is crucial that we reflect the strength of women’s representation in the Party by having at least one woman in the leadership team of leader and deputy leader.
So 50% of the Party’s members are actually women? Have Harriet even asked?
Look, I hate to put this bluntly, but equality, in this particular situation, is best served if one of two members of leadership team is a woman AND (please take careful note) has been elected into that position solely on their own merits and abilities as politician. Anything but that and the position of the (successful) female candidate may well be hopelessly devalued.
Like it or not, there is a substantial difference between becoming Leader or Deputy Leader because you are chosen by members as the best person for the job and being elected to that position because you are the best woman for the job in a election from which all male candidates are excluded.
There is also an obvious logistical problem if the Party holds elections for both offices simultaneously and attracts candidates of both genders for both positions, in so far as under Harriet’s suggested ‘rules’ - there is no way of knowing which gender of candidate is actually eligible to become Deputy Leader until the result of the ballot for the Leadership is known, even though, in a simulataneous election, members will have the option of voting for candidates both genders for both positions. So unless there’s an undemocratic stitch-up before nominations open in which members of the PLP agree that only men, say, will be put forward for the Leadership and only women for the Deputy Leadership, the whole process could easily descend into farce.
Under such a system, there would be a real possibility that the outcome of the Leadership election (assuming that is announced first) could result in one or more legitimately nominated candidates being excluded from becoming Deputy Leader (by virtue of being the same gender as the victor in the Leadership ballot) after the ballot for Deputy has been taken and despite one (or more) of the excluded candidates having got more votes than the individual who asctually becomes Deputy Leader, simply by virtue of gaining the most vote amongst candidate of the opposite gender to the newly elected leader.
Does that make sense?
Okay, Quick illustration. Jim and Jane run for Leader, Mike and Mandy run for Deputy. The ballot is held and votes are cast.
Jim wins the leadership election with 55% of the vote over Jane. Mike is now ineligible for the Deputy’s position, meaning that Mandy wins by default, but Mike actually got 65% of the votes in the actual ballot.
Democracy in action..? Of course not!
The other thing to say here is simply that if we cannot manage to elect someone to a senior position in the Party on merit, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristics you might want to the throw in for consideration, then we really aren’t the Party that think we are and are nowhere near being the Party that we should be.
The other point I want to pick up lies in this section…
6. Community activism as a key part of party membership
The most successful local Labour Parties are at the heart of their community, from running local councils to leading community organisations, to running campaigns on the issues that matter to the local neighbourhood. Activists in Camberwell and Labour Party involve themselves in running community activities which are too numerous to mention but which include the People Care Association, which supports the elderly who live alone, including providing dinner on Christmas day, others run the Saturday music school at the local church.
First and foremost, running a local council is NOT ‘community activism’ being, by definition, a political activity carried out by local politicians who hold a political office.
Yes, Harriet, politicians DO exist outside the narrow confines of the Westminster Village.
Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with CLPs and Branches supporting local community activism, or with members taking a direct involvement in community activism and campaigning, but if that’s all I was interested in doing I’d simply join a local charity or community organisation and not have joined the Labour Party.
Political party’s ‘do’ political activism as well, one might well say that this is axiomatic of being a political party rather then a charity or community organisation.
One of the main reasons why grassroots party membership is dying on its arse out here in the real world, not just in out own party but in the others as well, is because local government and local politicians are now so hidebound by centrally imposed rules, regulations, targets, restrictions, constraints, quangos and interfering busybodies like the Standards Board that its getting to be nigh on impossible to do anything fucking political at local level.
Look, if you want local politics, then you have to have local politicians who are allowed to do political things and make political decisions, which can be supported by local political parties and local political activists who run local political campaigns - and if you do that the local people have a reason to join their local party.
If you don’t want all that, the you might as well forget the whole shebang, abolish local councils altogether and just appoint local adminstrators from Whitehall.
Seriously, if you think that community activism is somehow a substitute for, or alternative to, political activism then you should be applying for the job of Chief Executive of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, not standing for election as Deputy Leader of a major political party.
Right, so that’s Hazel Blears and Harriet Harman out of the running for my vote, with Jon Cruddas looking good so far - who’s next…
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