Thursday, December 22, 2005

Constituency, Party, Concience.

Political parties want their members to keep their views to themselves. We've known this for a long time, but it is being foregrounded by the fact that a growing number of party hacks now have their own websites.

One Lib Dem has just had his membership revoked. Quoting from the letter from party HQ:

“The main arguments in favour of the motion related to postings on your website and letters to the press regarded as illiberal & irreconcilable with membership of the Party.”

The whole story is here. (via Tim Worstall)

Elsewhere, Gareth Davies, a Labour councilor in Durham had his candidature reviewed in the light of his (largely loyal) weblog.

“the Regional Party insisted I be re-interviewed for the local government panel this December because I was viewed by some county party members as a 'loose cannon'.”

Again, the rest is here.

I know I've referred to this before, but it is worth saying it again; Roy Hattersley's is absolutely right in his formulation on the responsibility that an elected representative bears to their political party. Once elected, they must represent their constituents, their Party and their concience in no particular order.

The same must surely also be true of rank-and-file members? Any sensible observer knows that (beyond the world of socialist realism) political parties are an alliance of competing interest groups. If parties continue to try to pretend otherwise (and bloggers will make it increasingly impossible to do so), they will look more and more ridiculous.

Short of Xmas cheer? Well, Tim Worstall's comment box is probably filling up with a debate about 'being sacked for illiberalism.'

Why not check, just to be sure? Ho Ho Ho.

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MatGB said...

Except that the LibDem hasn't been expelled. That he thinks he has been is evidence of his own stupidity methinks. Full analysis here, I was trying to be a lot ruder than I ended up being, ah well, I'm just not nasty enough.

Paulie said...

Fair comment Matt. I've had a look at your Fisking on this one and I think I'll stay out of it. On the one hand, I think he has a point about the pre-determination of the party - that's how they tend to work. On the other hand, he can't be surprised if he gets expelled for referring to Ashdown as a Nazi. Party members have a responsibility not to bring their party into disrepute, and that kind of language isn't excusable.

On the wider point though, I think that - at a local level - parties can be overzealous in defence of uniformity. I'd like them to take greater steps to demonstrate that they select candidates on the basis of their competence rather than their compliance.

In particular, I'd like to see them being seen to try and attract competent people who are cabable of communicating their values. Like most aspects of this argument, I've done it before:

Andrew Brown said...

Without wanting to get too party political (and whatever the rights and wrongs of the particular cases) the Lib Dems do have some history around finding weblogs difficult.

On the wider point there has always been a tension between freedom of expression and membership of a political party and blogs certainly expose that to new scrutiny.

I suspect that where the political leadership feels relatively secure and mature you get a more relaxed view on these things.