In case you missed it, David Lammy last week wrote in the Evening Standard about the need for Labour to hold open primaries to select their next Mayoral candidate. As well as Lammy’s original piece it’s worth reading Dave Hill’s response and the discussion at Liberal Conspiracy.
Personally I found Lammy’s article a lightweight, vacuous statement of the obvious. When he wrote:
“Our candidate must involve and inspire everyone — from the Dagenham cabbie to the Latin American stallholder in Elephant and Castle; someone who speaks to the concerns of the Redbridge commuter and the pensioners of Tottenham.”
did he really think he was saying something profound? Was there ever a time when parties didn’t select candidates in the hope that they’d inspire as many voters as possible? Hasn’t that always been how candidates become officeholders?
Am I alone in finding it odd that after praising the Tories for their open primary in Totnes Lammy then reveals that he’s spent the last six months
“visiting constituencies, talking to grassroots Labour Party members from across London”
Surely if you’re calling for a new form of politics in which everyone feels their voice counts it’d be better not to confine your homework to discussions with only those prepared to shell out for a party membership card?
But where this contribution to the debate on London’s political future and voter empowerment really fails is the total absence of any mention of the London Assembly. In his second paragraph Lammy predicts:
“We will see changes to how we select our councillors, MPs and — I hope — how we choose the next Mayor of London.”
which is nice, but it’s a pretty glaring oversight not to mention the people elected to oversee
“the second-most-powerful elected office in the land, with an annual budget of over £3 billion”
Not a single utterance on voter’s inability to reject a specific party placeman on the list of ‘top-up’ candidates while still supporting the party, not a word on increased powers for the Assembly so they can hold the Mayor to account, not a thought on ways to help voters understand how the various components of the Greater London Authority actually work, not a glance towards recall powers which would allow Londoners to hold future Mayors and AMs to account.
No, what apparently matters most to Londoners is that parties ape the X Factor and hold a series of beauty parade selection processes.