Friday 24 December 2010

Primary Promise

The full Coalition Agreement last May said: “We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this Parliament, targetted at seats which have not changed hands for many years.” The money would have been allocated to parties which now have seats in Parliament, according to their shares of the vote in May 2010. But this has been abandoned.

There are those who argue that it would be crashingly expensive to give the whole constituency and national electorates the last word in candidate selections and Leadership Elections respectively, as well as a say in policy formulation at national level. But these need not be postal ballots. Indeed, they ought not to be. Electoral registers are easy to obtain, and political parties already have them. These ballots could be conducted like other elections, with ballot boxes at polling stations. The main cost would then be room hire, assuming that the local party did not already own or have the use of anywhere suitable. They could all club together and hire somewhere on a single day. Easy.

In fact, although I still remain to be convinced about the State funding of political parties, I probably could be if this were one of the two conditions. The other being that all State funding be matched by resolution of one or more membership organisations, and if so matched be exactly the same for each party nationally and for each candidate, with or without party, locally, with a ban on any spending above twice the State funding available.

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