Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why are we so afraid to allow those who wish to represent us to campaign?

After another round of internal Party elections where the Rules do everything in their power to prevent us from finding out more about the candidates, I really do think that it is time to do something about it.

Firstly, let me make it absolutely clear that this is not an attack on the Returning Officer, the Acting Returning Officer or David Allworthy (David, I can't remember exactly what your title was...). After all, the Rules as laid down must be applied to ensure equality of opportunity.

But the idea that I couldn't blog about my candidacy, send e-mails to my friends, or use Facebook or Twitter to advertise my virtues is absurd in its impact. And given the not unreasonable limit on manifestos (I know A5 is precious little, but think of your postman...), it seems only sensible to allow people to use free media to promote themselves and what they stand for.

There is an irony here. Twenty years ago, I was involved with a campaign to tighten up the internal party election rules. Then, candidates could spend money and, given that access to the Internet was nothing like what it is now, that meant that a wealthy candidate could contact Conference Representatives in a way that others couldn't. It wasn't fair, and the rules were changed to stop that.

However, times have changed, and campaigning has too. Given that, using Facebook, Twitter and blogs, a campaign can explode into life quickly, candidates can and should be able to respond to that, driving the agenda in the direction of their choosing if they are credible enough. Yes, the defamation rules should still apply, but other than that, we should apply our philosophy and principles, allowing an informed democracy.

And one other thing, now that I'm a disinterested party in all things Presidential. Why on Earth don't we allow candidates for the Presidency access to the membership list? After all, they're meant to represent the members, and the more able they are to reach them in the campaign phase (and don't worry, the £7,500 spending limit prevents anyone from going mad...), the better. That's a good thing, isn't it?...

4 comments:

Mark Valladares said...

Riversider,

Thank you for your comment, irrelevant though it is to the subject at hand.

For that reason, I've rejected it, but feel free to come back and say something relevant in the future.

Mark Valladares said...

Riversider,

Thank you for your comment, irrelevant though it is to the subject at hand.

For that reason, I've rejected it, but feel free to come back and say something relevant in the future.

Nigel Ashton said...

I entirely agree with you on this Mark.

It is absurd that candidates for important party comittees can't send emails to their friends or set up Facebook pages for their election campaign.

It is right that we prevent people spending large sums of money to get elected in internal elections.

Under the current rules, I could send a handwritten letter to as many conference reps as I cold find addresses for, but I couldn't change my Facebook status to 'please vote for me for XYZ committee'. I could spend £100 on stamps and envelopes but I wouldn't be allowed to do something that costs nothing. Absolutely absurd.

Niklas said...

I've never understood why our internal election rules are quite so restrictive. As an ordinary member I would like to know more about my representatives on the federal committees, but I have no idea what they stand for because they aren't allowed to campaign. And since they aren't allowed to campaign, few of them bother to keep us informed inbetween elections either (the honourable exception is Linda Jack, who occasionally blogs about FPC meetings).

Your argument is spot on: social media and blogs allow a level playing field for all candidates, so should be allowed. It is inexcusable to keep the rest of the party in the dark, and leave the federal conference reps who vote with an A5 manifesto and a name as the only ways to work out who to vote for.