Imagine, if at general elections, the residents of towns and cities were told that unless they drummed up support for a vote of no confidence in the incumbent MP, then they wouldn’t bother with an constituency election. There would be outrage.
So why then does the prospect of open selection, which would put this principle to work in the Labour Party face such opposition? Few are the people that have actually come out publicly against it, yet it has faced dams and blockades on its way to becoming party policy.
All of us in the Labour Party want to win elections, and not only that, but we want to be part of a country where a Tory government is never allowed to gain power and pass deadly austerity laws.
Let’s say our goals are achieved and Labour becomes the most popular and dominant party in the UK; If this were to happen then the fulcrum of power itself would move slightly towards internal Labour party politics and there would be worrying implications if the structure of Labour party itself was less democratic than the UK state.
Unless internal Labour party elections become as democratic as UK parliament elections, then the more power Labour gains, the more democracy is reduced in this particular arena.
The Labour party should commit to being a model of democracy that is higher and more advanced than the UK state. Currently an argument could be made that in some respects the reverse is true. If Labour is to be the party of the many not the few then we must go start letting democracy flow downhill.
For groups within the Labour party, such as Momentum, this should apply too. While they have been a crucial part of the campaign for OS, when it comes to their own internal workings there are also questions on democracy. Rather than sending out communiques from the leadership during party conferences emulating the whip model, why not use that same technology to do instant polling of members?
The neoliberal conception of democracy, one that sees it through an atomistic worldview where individuals are granted power and thus spend much of their time trying to prevent others from displacing them is one where power flows against gravity, up and away from the many. A true democracy, conceived as one where it is the people at the top and thus where power flows downhill should be something that all progressives and all socialists are striving for. And change starts at home.