Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Tories lead in 'Democracy?'

Eric Pickles has been in most of the broadsheet papers recently claiming that the Tories are leading the way in giving politics back a good name (did it ever have one in the first place?) How are they doing that you may ask?
Well even before the expenses scandal, the Tories have been using the open Primary to select candidates in some of their seats, in Totnes they have even used a Postal Primary. Now for many the word Primary smacks of copying the US system, hardly one that lends itself to the cleanest way to run politics.
Pickles forgets that the Tory party suffers more than most for having MP's who contribute little to public life but sit in Shire constituencies with large majority's- we have a number who fall in that category in Suffolk. Once sitting there seems little chance of a Primary being used there. It just seems to be for seats that the Tories currently don't hold.

Now I talk from first hand experience as I attended the Ipswich Primary where Ben Gummer, was selected. well run? It seemed so at first but take away the party members, there were very few members of the public there, and even after the selection the local constituency management committee can throw the choice out. (As happened in Plymouth Devenport)
Why was Ipswich a failure (other than selecting a candidate who will jump to Suffolk Coastal, once his burger eating Dad retires)
Well those who were not Porty members (not including me) seemed to come from the Far Right Christian movement, and as only some of the candidates got asked about abortion and such like, the questioning was not fair. this done for Chloe Smith- who may have had the last laugh as she is now the MP for Norwich North!
So the contest was a straight shooing for Gummer with his Fathers religious views helping. Of the Tory party members who were there, an obvious split between the younger Gummer supporters and those who were after a Council leader from Surrey who had led a Unitary Council.
Some of the Tory members who did not even live in the constituency were also able to vote, I saw a number from Ipswich and Central Suffolk voting. Wonder if that is the last time they will vote together as they divide into build/don't build on the Northern Fringe debate!

So Eric, yes- all parties should be doing more to restore confidence in democracy and politics but pretending these gimmick Primary's are the answer is a joke. Maybe a start will be to stop Tory Councils calling a council meeting that costs hundreds of pounds and had only one thing to discuss but in the same year cancel council meetings when councilors would have had the opportunity to discuss the proposals for unitary Councils. Plus all the working groups that seem to never meet. Well Mr Pickles- democracy with or without a Primary certainly does not look alive in Ipswich Tory circles!

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