Saturday, August 08, 2009

So what?

Letters From a Tory approvingly quotes Simon Hoggart's musings on the idea of open primaries for prospective Parliamentary candidates...
Suppose it catches on, and all candidates for all major parties are chosen by all the voters? Won't we wind up with a collection of bland, acceptable, uncontroversial, middle-of-the-road, white bread MPs, holding no very strong opinions about anything?

How the fuck would we tell the difference from what we have now, precisely?

Yes, Hoggart cites a few of the annoyingly eccentric and stridently irritating characters who have passed through the House of Commons but—let's face it—the only reason that Hoggart can easily recall the names of these people is because they are so utterly rare.

After all, such is the stranglehold that the political parties have on MPs these days, it doesn't actually matter what any one candidate believes anyway—they will simply be slapped down by the Whips.

I don't see that open primaries are going to substantially reduce the numbers of these already rare interesting—and, be honest, rarely interesting—candidates all that much.

Besides, cynical though I am about the British people, I tend to think that voters are more likely to warm to those candidates whom they regard as having genuine beliefs—especially in these difficult times.

And if the more gobby fuckwits don't get in, well, maybe the people—having realised that their representatives are all moribund, tedious bastards with all the conversational skills of an autistic accoutant—might vote for someone more amusing...


assegai mike said...

The people of Totnes had the choice of two existing politicians and a working doctor. They chose the doctor. This if a good start and likely to give a severe dose of the steaming vapours to most of today's political class who haven't done a day's real-world work in their lives. Therefore the open primaries idea will not be allowed to catch on, I suspect. So well done, Totnes Tories.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Or, to put it another way, wouldn't it be great if the Tories didn't foist MPs on us who can't write a fucking letter without central office approval?

Nick said...

All irelevant.

1. Make it illegal to offer inducements to, or threats to, an MP to influence their vote.

That deals with the whips.

2. Make all laws subject to referenda.

Then we can abolish the House of Lords. They are redundant.

David Gillies said...

You'll find that most of those arguing against open primaries are those with the most invested in the existing Select Committee system (it's special pleading, in other words). There is nothing more discouraging to the average politically-minded person who wishes to get involved in politics at the grass-roots than the realisation that by so doing you are surrounding yourself with the most ghastly collection of shysters, monomaniacs and outright cunts. Virtually all of them, if you were cornered at a party, would lead you to acrobatic feats of evasion. This is the crisis of low-level democracy: that no-one fit for office would be willing to run for it. If open primaries can decouple the candidates to some extent from the horrific gang of mongs who normally act as the gatekeepers in these affairs then it will be profoundly useful.

Roger Thornhill said...

I find it absurd that a party would allow all do decide which candidate is to be selected.

Yes, if you have a certain Tory majority, the unrepresented minority might get someone more in tune to their views.

If you have a Labour slim majority, the temptation is to select the Tory less likely to threaten that.

The big issue for me though is the cost. If you DEMAND that parties MUST present a choice and run an Open Primary in all seats, you block out small and new parties (unless they are backed by very wealthy donors).

I have a sneaky suspicion that once this fact is rumbled, the big three will move to make it compulsory and or run a media memefest to make it unacceptable or disreputable not to.

My $0.02

Plato said...

Since the LD's pathetic partisan campaign to get their vote to support the 'weakest' candidate - and having failed miserably, I'm not at all concerned about open primaries.

I think it has huge first mover advantage right now for the Tories - coming across all open to new ideas, happy to be judged/picked by those who aren't Tories etc - not surprised they went for the anti-politician.

Look forward to seeing more of this.

James Higham said...

Keep your eye on Totnes.

Anonymous said...

OT, a political quiz.

peter carter-fuck said...

Hoggart's a complete wankstain. I tried to set fire to the bugger at The Spectator garden party once, but he was so fucking damp he just smouldered for a bit.

John B said...

The current generation of 18-25 year olds have better assessed maths and English skills than the current generation of 35-60 year olds (25-35 year olds are top).

That isn't based on GCSEs - it's taking a sample of each group *now* and assessing them: a hundred 20-year-olds and a hundred 50-year-olds are given the same test to fill in.

Therefore, although clearly 20% of school leavers not having primary school level English isn't good enough, you can't therefore conclude that the overall educational system is any worse than 25 or 50 years ago, when *more than* 20% of school leavers didn't have primary school level English.

The average standard of people taking qualifications at 16 and 18 is possibly lower, reflecting the fact that a majority of people now take these qualifications.

Roger Thornhill said...

John B,

Shilling for The Soviet as usual.

Your argument will only be proved when those 20 year olds are themselves 50.

You may forget that many 50 year olds have not seen an exam question for decades or that the syllabus could have been different. Matrices? I Never did them - it was CSE for some reason, so if I saw such a question I would be stuffed, f'rex.

John B said...

Shilling for the *truth*, not *some dogma*. In the wrong thread, admittedly, oops.

But: Your argument will only be proved when those 20 year olds are themselves 50.

No, on your criteria it won't even be proved then, because tests aren't comparable across different times. But it's a pretty good indication that the overall picture of gloom and doom is a misreading - what appears to have happened is that standards at the top are higher-but-less-improved-than-the-OECD-average, standards for the bottom 50% are higher but still not very good (because the SM record was *so* bad), and kids who would've gone to grammar school get a slightly worse secondary education but go to uni so still end up better educated overall.

"Matrices? I Never did them - it was CSE for some reason, so if I saw such a question I would be stuffed, f'rex."

ie your maths education was, in one significant respect of maths, less good than the current syllabus.

Verity said...

As always, the British got it wrong and got their ankle stuck down a hole.

Primaries in the US, which are being emulated with such eagerness and pathetic mistake, are held only by the parties. You can only vote in the primary of the party with which you are registered.

Why do the British always get it completely wrong when they try to copy the US?

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

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