Away with this union-bashing, and with all talk of mumsnet. But it is amazing how long-lived is the fantasy that the "major" political parties are still mass membership organisations, and are also still largely financed by small-scale local fundraising. In reality, they are kept going by gigantic subventions from the State and the supper-rich, and most of their tiny remaining memberships is made up of the starstruck elderly who will swoon over Liam Byrne's coffee waiter or Jeremy Hunt's typist.
If there is any local involvement at all in candidate selection, that is. Very often, there is none. In David Miliband's constituency, there is no longer even any local involvement in the selection of candidates for the local authority; his London office does the lot.
So, by no means only in order to annoy the potential beneficiaries of this sorry state of affairs, although there is certainly that: in the course of each Parliament, each party should submit to a binding ballot of the whole constituency electorate its locally, internally determined shortlist of two for Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, just as each should submit to a binding ballot of the whole constituency electorate its internally determined shortlist of two for Leader.
Many a stalwart of the Council or of other aspects of the local Big Society (trade unions, co-operatives, and so on) would then beat many a Westminster Village boy or his girlfriend. And our Parliament would be infinitely better for those victories.
As to policy-making, each party should also hold such a national ballot the 10 policies proposed by the most of its branches, including affiliated branches where applicable, with each voter entitled to vote for up to two, and with the top seven guaranteed inclusion in the subsequent General Election manifesto.
If one party made these changes, then they would all have to. By all means, let Labour take the lead. But will it? Dare it? Ed Miliband, over to you.