Monday, January 22, 2007

Non Compos Mentis

Compass Loses Direction

(A) Compass has announced that it is holding a ballot of its membership to decide who it will support in the Labour Party Deputy Leadership election.

(B) Its Management Committee is recommending that members vote for Jon Cruddas.

There are a number of reasons why this dual tactic is doubley inept.

(1) Deputy Dog

The Leadership position is vastly more important than that of his or her Deputy. Why is the ballot limited to the secondary position only?

(2) Voting In the Dark

We do not know for certain (and can not even make a reasonable guess) as to who the candidates will be in the Labour Party vote for Deputy Leader, especially as nominees need to pass a threshold of support amongst Labour MPs. The Compass contest might turn out to be for a bogus list.

(3) Mixing Chalk With Cheese

Compass members will use the Alternative Vote System (1,2,3,etc). But two choices are to be superimposed upon each other. First, does the member wish us to support any of the candidates at all? Secondly, what is the member's order of choice amongst the candidates?

These should be two separate and distinct ballot choices. Only if it is decided to give support for having a candidate, should a count then be made amongst the alternatives.

The mixing together of the two options, handicaps those of us who wish to stop this beauty contest. For whilst it is reasonable to expect a person to vote, say, (1) Benn (2) Hain (3) Cruddas etc; it isn't reasonable to expect someone to vote (1) Benn (2) not supporting a candidate (3) Hain etc. And those voting first for "not supporting a candidate" are not very likely to use the rest of their choices for the very people they are not supporting. This means that, in practice, the system robs them of 2nd, 3rd and further choices.

Back to your chart, Compass.

(4) Guided Democracy

Why is the Management Committee of Compass pushing a particular candidate? I thought they were keen to encourage a wide range of opinions into their debates and not to bounce their membership into rigid positions.

If someone other than Jon Cruddas happens not to win the Compass ballot, what then? Will they stand on their heads or resign? And if "not supporting a candidate" get over a 50% vote, will that mean that Jon Cruddas will be given a lower profile on Compass platforms and in their publications?.

(5) An Uneven Playing Field

As most of the assumed candidates (apart from Cruddas) hold Government posts, they are genuinely handicapped in setting out their stalls unless they resign from office.

I am on record as wanting Peter Hain to stand in the Leadership contest. I also call for him to resign his Government position in order to do this effectively. But is Compass willing to call on several candidates to do this in the Deputy Leadership contest?

Is it even reasonable for Compass to ask all likely Deputy Leadership Candidates for policy statements, when they are plumping for Cruddas? As much as I would like to see such statements (especially if they were uninhibited), I would also understand anyone who told Compass to get lost. For they are doing this as part of a pro-Cruddas ploy.

(6) Politics And Its Entrapments

Compass had given the impression of being an open body, keen to develop genuine and serious avenues of debate inside the Labour Party. Now it is moving to become a career avenue. Unfortuneately, the people it endorses will come to define what it is about. Instead of advancing a questioning political philosophy, it will aim to become a sectarian tool facilitating the next takeover bid at the top of the Labour Party.

I was just moving to get more involved with Compass. But unless we can stop this current non-sense, I will just have to move on.

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