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« versus | Main | Telegraph praises David Cameron’s social justice message »


William Norton

This is a group drawn from a broad cross-section of the party. They all carry some degree of respect, if not admiration. What they say is sensible, reasonable and might even amount to good politics.

Well, that's sunk them, hasn't it? I think we can now guess which way the 186 other clowns will vote.

James Hellyer

I've been assured that I'm not losing much when I'm disenfranchised. I'd not had the vote for long anyway. So that's all right then!

Michael McGowan

James only in the Looking Glass World of the Tory Party at Westminster could such a Mugabe-esque remark be made with a straight face.

Roger Giles

As a party member what I want from MP's is a lot less introspection and inane comments about the Taliban wing of the party, and a lot more visible agression shown towards the new labour socialists who are destroying the British economy!
Brown's credibility is in tatters with economists, lets see you get after the ####er, rather than write devisive letter to the Telegraph.

Graeme Archer

What about the wonderful John Moss's proposal (late of this parish ie Hackney South's parliamentary candidate) - that we (da grass roots) elect the party chairman, while leaving the westminster party to elect the leader?

I just can't get those hustings I attended last time round out of my mind ... I'll be more careful what I say this time, but honestly, I don't believe anyone even vaguely interested in winning the country could have witnessed the "discussion" and retained their faith that selection by the grass roots members is the best way to choose a leader.


Yes, standing up for the right to vote is always "divisive." Members of a political establishment always favour unity over truth. But it is counter-productive as the party never truly examines its problems and deals with them.

Graham Clark

I don't pretend to have followed every twist and turn in the leadership election mechanism saga, and may therefore have missed a trick. However, it is not immediately obvious why today's vote is apparently in the form of a referendum, whereby MPs are being asked to say "yes" to one particular new method of electing the party leader, or "no" in which case implicitly the arrangements for the 2001 contest will stand.

If MPs should say "no", would it not be desirable for any MP who can devise an alternative new method and persuade nine of their colleagues to endorse it, to have this put to a further ballot (or series of elimination ballots) in mid-September? Hopefully this would produce several possible ways forward which had been carefully crafted and argued. And, if they were to be published on the party website a fortnight before the election, there could be an open debate on their relative merits.

As MPs will be in their constituencies in September, rather than gathered in Westminster, there might be more scope than usual for ordinary members of the party to influence their thinking.


Here, today, are the opening words of the online party membership application form at

"Here you can become a member of the most open and democratic British Party. After the first three months of your membership, you will be entitled to a vote in Party ballots."

Mark O'Brien

I like that idea of electing the Party Chairman. It's an interesting one, but probably too radical to muster any support. What's more, the Chairman would become a big rival to the Leader - that may not be a bad thing, but it could cause damage.

The problem with the debate on election rules is that it largely involves those people on either side (Cameron or Davis mainly) pressing for the one which will elect their man. They don't really appear to care much about party democracy, just getting their man in power. I suppose that's the way it has to be, but it's not particularly endearing.


The leader of the party sets the political direction of the party. The party belongs to the members. They have been given the right to vote for the leader. That right should not be taken away without consulting all members in a referendum. That is the only right and fair way to proceed. I believe the current system is right and fair, but we should go further and elect the chairman, the treasurer, and the chairman of candidate selection. we should endorse the leader at the party conference annually. MPs should not have the right to remove the leader.


I love it when these MPs issue press releases splashing their love for party democracy. But since the MP ballot is secret, what is to prevent a MP from publicly backing democracy (the popular thing to do) and then privately voting to disenfranchise the party members? Does anyone believe that MPs are incapable of doing that? I'm not doubting the sincerity of the ten MPs who issued this statement, just observing that public posture and private voting often don't coincide.

This secret voting is just one aspect of what's wrong with this whole process.

Mark O'Brien

"Since the MP ballot is secret, what is to prevent a MP from publicly backing democracy (the popular thing to do) and then privately voting to disenfranchise the party members?"

Wait and see what the results show! They'll have egg on their faces if three MPs back the grassroots!

Adrian Owens

The sign that any organisation has lost its way is an obsession with restructuring. Profits not too good, let's change the management structure etc ...

The tragedy of the debate about the method of selecting a leader and the 21st century party proposals is that they are a distraction from the real task before us - to develop interesting new policies. Let's see a lot more policy idea threads posted.

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