Should we have Shadow Cabinet elections?
I do have to say it’s typical of this leadership and of Ed Miliband in general that when he chooses to make a move, rather that it being about democratic change, giving more power to the Party it is about taking power away from at least one section. Any democratic illusions in this leadership should be shattered; that aside, the power of the Parliamentary Labour Party is in and of itself undemocratic and unaccountable. This at least makes the issue slightly less one-dimensional and more complex.
I’m not surprised Ed has moved to drain the PLP of power in this way, by ending the Shadow Cabinet elections given the fact its a constant thorn in the side of his leadership. However, he has not done this in a way that empowers the wider Party and that’s why I find myself unable to ultimately support the proposals. Instead, of empowering the Party he has sought to empower himself which is definitely not the same thing.
I don’t want to defend the status quo when it comes to this; not only does it imprison a leadership we all elected under the lock and key of one faction, a faction within Labour that enjoys too much power, but it also makes little sense to have Shadow Cabinet elections but no elections to the actual Cabinet. The bottom line is that both of these bodies should be elected but by the whole Party and be accountable to the whole Party.
So, my attitude pretty much boils down to a pox on both your undemocratic houses. However, the ensuring bitter back-biting that is likely to ensure over this issue we need to be organising and pushing forward real democratic advances for the membership. Now is the time to have a conversation about how we do this; from my point of view, as I said in an earlier post, the existing organisations don’t cut the mustard. We need an organisation that does and it’s about time those groups within Labour committed to party democracy, left and right, got round the table and started thinking seriously about forming one.