Monday, 27 September 2010

Well done Ed - now get your backers to start being democratic

A genuine "well done" from this Lib Dem to Ed Miliband for winning the Labour leadership. Well done because I bet £5 on Ed to win when he was 5-1. I'll be donating the £25 to the Lib Dems to help us get our message across over the Labour lies machine!

The Labour party has put up the exact figures for the results of the bizarre electoral college the Labour party uses, where MPs and MEPs, members and Trade Unions get a third of the votes each. In proper democratic parties, party members get one member, one vote. Of course, if that had happened it would be Miliband senior who would be leader. The local constituency Labour parties of Hexham, where I live, and Blaydon, where I stood at the last election, voted overwhelmingly for David. Their turnout percentages were very impressive. Ed is the choice of Trade Union members but the turnout amongst them is laughable,  for example only 6.7% in Unison, the large public sector union - which is not the lowest turnout by far.

Far be it from me to give Labour some tips but I really think they have to engage with their trade union base. Firstly because the unions are keeping Labour financially afloat but also because there is a fundamental problem in grass roots trade union member involvement. I was briefly a shop steward for Unison many years ago and was often irritated that the officials were elected on tiny turnouts and then proceeded to spend political funds to pursue their own political careers. I remember being really cheesed off when I went to see the singer Billy Bragg to find that it was sponsored by Unison and all the top brass had free tickets. It struck me as a case of preaching to the converted as virtually everyone there was sympathetic to the union movement.

Of course it is a difficult balance for Ed as he can't be seen to be a tool of the unions. He really should be challenging the trade unions to reinvigorate their internal democracy.

Then he has to be honest and say what cuts he would have done as part of Alistair Darlings cuts agenda, which as a cabinet minister he signed up to. Local Labour activists now pretend no cuts are necessary, which just makes them look silly.

One thing is for sure. Having won under a form of (admittedly a crazy form of) AV, he cannot be anything but wholeheartedly in favour of Fair Votes in the referendum next May.


  1. I think I may have to fact check you here Mr Bradbury, David Miliband was not nominated in Blaydon 'overwhelmingly' but by a one-point triumph over Ed Balls. Perhaps this ignorance of local affairs is the reason you performed so poorly as the Lib Dem candidate for the area at the last GE?

  2. Well OK Anonymous, if I must - I don't usually dwell on Labour elections (so complicated!) but here are the results of the Blaydon Constituency Labour Party (1st preferences) taken from Labours website - Dianne Abbott 14 votes (4.59%), Ed Balls 50 votes (16.39%), Andy Burnham 15 votes (4.92%), David Miliband 159 votes (52.13%), Ed Miliband 67 votes (21.97%), spoilt ballots 0 votes,305 electors, 409 votes cast, 74.6% turnout.

    I would say that more than twice the first preferences of the next candidate and a clear absolute majority for David is pretty overwhelming. Mr Anderson the Labour MP preferred Ed Balls over the other Ed, giving him his first preference.

    Of course 1 Labour MPs vote is worth 601 votes of the normal voter, such is the arrogance of Labours system, so Dave Andersons votes completely overruled the wishes of his local members. Is that enough knowledge of local affairs for you? I must admit to being rather more interested in proper local issues during the GE!