Now we are into conference season I have been thinking a lot about issues of equality. I'm not a fan of positive discrimination as a way of getting a balanced mix of genders and races into politics. You end up with people like Diane Abbott and Hazel Blears getting into positions of power and frankly in my opinion these two people are idiots. Politics is supposed to be a meritocracy and positive discrimination distorts this. Labour engages in lots of hand wringing and says all the right stuff on this issue but they have consistently failed. The Tories, the so called nasty party elected a female leader and had a female PM over thirty years ago before equality was even a hot topic, Labour and the Lib Dems have achieved neither. So what is to be done? How do you get the demographics of the elected to reflect the electors? One of the best ways of doing this would be open primaries. The people who select the candidates for the seats cannot and shouldn't be trusted with selecting those who stand. It’s estimated by the electoral reform society that 59% of the seats for MP's in the UK are safe, i.e. one party has a majority that is unlikely to be overturned by any other party. This means that that for the majority of seats, the parties hold complete control and this has led to lots of very poor candidates in power. I'm not a fan of a lot of the stuff the Tories are doing but "Call me Dave" did have a few good idea and open primaries was one of them. They even tried is as a one off in 2009 and it was a massive success. Sarah Wollaston, a local GP put her name forward to be the Tory candidate in Totnes. She has as far as I can tell become a very independently minded and good MP who has spoken out against the NHS reforms and unlike a lot of MP's has actually voted against the party whip. Unlike the parachuted in SPADS and ambitious career toadies she has had a successful career outside of politics and isn't beholden to the party leadership for her seat, the whips must hate her. I asked her on twitter the other day if there are likely to be more open primaries and the disappointing and honest response I got was:”I am not holding my breath. Think they shld look at how to make them less expensive, then could be done for all parties"
Which is a great shame, the party machine has clearly realised they cannot control the candidates if they have no power over them. Labour and the Lib Dems have, despite their rhetoric have no plans to have open primaries and the Tories have now gone soft on the idea. With 59% of the seats safe, the only way the elected will reflect the electors are if the electors get to choose who they elect. The craptocracy will continue.