Incredibly, it seems some ex-Shadow Cabinet members are already opposing Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to increase democracy in the Labour Party.
They say giving them a chance to elect a third of ShadCab members means two-thirds will be “his people”.
I say the membership would not have tolerated Tom Watson’s alternative, allowing MPs to choose all of the Shadow Cabinet – and in fact limiting the wider membership’s choice to just one-third (the other third being elected by the leader) doesn’t go far enough, in terms of extending democracy.
That being said, I am also wary of the idea of asking grassroots members to help shape policy. Any support I have will depend on the form that policy-shaping takes.
I would not want Labour policy to be a shopping-list of conflicting ideas, included for the sake of particular elements within the party, that would not form a coherent programme for government and would put the electorate off. My instinct tells me that is what happened in 1983; it definitely happened last year.
It might work if the leadership (including an elected Shadow Cabinet) offered up possible policy options, with explanations of their implications, allowing the members to debate them and then vote.
To those who would prefer sulking to serving, I would say: We tried it your way and it didn’t work. If you want to sit this out, so be it.
Alternatively, you could be part of the most exciting development in British politics, possibly since 1945.
Jeremy Corbyn is to propose a democratic revolution in the Labour party that would give its mass membership a role in both electing his top team and shaping party policy.
With a comprehensive victory in the leadership contest next weekend looking increasingly likely, the Labour leader is now planning the next phase of a radical remaking of the party into a democratic social movement.
It is understood that Corbyn will suggest that members should be allowed to elect some shadow cabinet ministers, and have a direct say in policymaking through “digital consultations”.
In what will be presented as a conciliatory move to unify the party, one proposal is that a third of shadow cabinet posts are elected by the parliamentary party, another third by the leader and a final third by members. A source said: “These things are open to discussion”.
It is understood that some MPs also believe there is a case for the membership to be the sole electorate of the front-bench to ensure shadow cabinet ministers have an equal standing.
The idea of involving the membership in shadow cabinet elections is a rebuff to the deputy leader, Tom Watson, who is due to present a motion to Labour’s governing body, the NEC, on Tuesday in favour of bringing back the system under which MPs alone have a vote.
However, it is understood Watson recognises that the changes being suggested by the leader could represent “an exciting new era in British politics” under which for the first time frontbenchers would be delegates and not representatives of the membership.
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