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« Welcome | Main | Who's backing who? (3) »


William Norton

By far the best approach would be to put any new constitution to a referendum of members. It's good politics.

The legal issue on changing the election rules is not exactly straightforward. There's really three questions involved: (a) can they do it? (b) what's the damage any way? (c) what can you do?

Yes, I think they probably can do it. Membership of the Party is now contractual, ultimately via the party constitution and buried away in there are the obscure rules setting out how the National Convention can amend the rules. There might be arguments based on unfair contract terms/misrepresentation etc that the old emphasis on party democracy stops such a change but: would a reasonable man really rely on the word of a political party? A court could easily say: if you didn't check your own rules, caveat emptor. Don't forget that the constitution has been amended regularly over the years (usually to correct basic drafting errors).

What's your damage if the changes are a breach of contract? £15. As the minimum qualifying subscription to vote for the leader that appears to be the value placed on election rights - infact the value is probably below that because you also gets other rights eg Heartland and so forth.

What can you do? £15 is a small claims court matter. So a victorious defendant cannot enforce costs against someone who sues him - highly likely to exceed £15, whether the defendant wins or loses.

How's this for mutual assured destruction: If the changes are smuggled through without a referendum, opponents could launch simultaneous individual small claims against Maude or Monbiot or whoever. They've got to win every one of them; the opponents only have to be lucky once; the cost of defending several hundred actions should make them think.

"What's your damage if the changes are a breach of contract?"

It's only a breach of contract if you weren't made aware of the exceptions first.

Sean Fear

If there were a breach of contract, one should seek an injunction to prevent the rule changes taking place.

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