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  #51  
Old 12-26-2019, 06:37 PM
UltraVires is offline
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Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
In the UK there's no obligation attached to party membership. You do get a hell of a lot of emails though.
Do you attend a "primary" where you select the nominee for MP in your constituency? Does your vote count as equally as everyone else who votes? Are there higher ups in the party whose votes are "more equal" than yours?

ETA: Really, all of the questions in post #45. Thanks.

Last edited by UltraVires; 12-26-2019 at 06:39 PM.
  #52  
Old 12-26-2019, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Ah, so Canada does it the same way? If you are a party member do you have "primaries" where you get a vote for the party's nominee?

Is the second part really true? Are there continuing requirements (like door knocking) for membership? Can I pay my $10 to $25 just so I can have a say in the "primary" and have a pretty certificate to hang on my wall, or does it come with the responsibility to go door to door with the consequence that I am out of the constituency if I don't meet my duties?
Yes, Canada has the same system. Our parliamentary system is modelled on the UK, with similar political traditions and party systems. For the price of a membership, you can vote at the nomination. Itís not really a primary though - closer to a caucus, in the US system.

There arenít obligations. Just that the more people you have signed up, the more you likely have to call on for party work. And, people donít just join for the nominations. Itís a sign of political interest that people are willing to join a party, and therefore more likely to contribute to the campaign efforts once the general election election rolls around.
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  #53  
Old 12-26-2019, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
It really doesn't. Sure, the 5% who really like the Trotsky-Marxist Party or the White Peeple Forevah Party can keep voting for them happily till the cows come home ... but since the moderate majority are never ever going to vote that way, all these people have to choose someone more moderate as their second choice.

You can be as extreme as you like and get voted for ... but you have to be moderate to get an actual seat
Sure, but what is the importance of the Trotsky and Whites Forever party being able to get 5% of the vote under a new system instead of the 0.1% they get now? So that the Democratic and Republican candidates can get those votes reallocated to them respectively?

So that the extremists get two picks (your first, and then a backup if your first doesn't work) but everyone else just gets one? And that's assuming the system is not gamed as noted above.

As NorthernPiper noted above, all that would say is that 4.9% of the population would have voted for someone else if they believed that other person could win. That's about as good of a real world observation that if your aunt had testicles she would be your uncle, and is only of interest to political scientists. We all know that in most adventures in life a closer third place would have more support were it not for a runaway but close contest between first and second.

To the extent that it might change the results of an election, I don't see why that the most radical among us should be given such a special benefit (against assuming it isn't gamed) when they are free to vote for the candidate who has a real chance of winning. This is not punishment of third party candidates, it is a recognition of the reality that some candidates cannot win.

Last edited by UltraVires; 12-26-2019 at 06:50 PM.
  #54  
Old 12-26-2019, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Interesting. Thank you. Two followup questions if I may:

1) What percentage of voters and/or voting age population become voting members of the party in their own constituency? And if I pay the 25 pounds for membership, do I get to vote in a "primary" where my party's MP is selected? Is my vote on equal footing with other members/the national party or is it something where my vote counts peanuts, but Boris Johnson/Jeremy Corbyn has 80% of the vote while the remaining 20% is given to the whole of the lowly 25 pounds per year member?

In your opinion, does this system tend to shut out moderates as only the most vocal are likely to pay money and get involved in party politics?

2) How does a voter or group of voters go about changing a party platform? Let's say I am a Tory. Neither the Tories nor Labour are in favor of a particular issue. I won't even go into hypotheticals because they cause side debates, so we will call it Issue X. My position on issue X is further to the right than the Tories are willing to go, and certainly too far right for Labour (or any other party). Can I (and others who think like me) join my local constituency and have a vote on what the party thinks of Issue X?

What if my local constituency votes to support Issue X? Is that allowed or can the national party shut that down straight away? If so, what can I do to persuade the national party to support Issue X?
Iíll try to dig up the documentary tonight. But there was a fascinating documentary about Labour in the wildernesses which showed how the far left of Labour moved the party by getting involved on a local level and attending party meetings. Of course, Michael Foot was a disaster and it took endless work to move Labour back to a sense of normalcy.
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  #55  
Old 12-26-2019, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Do you attend a "primary" where you select the nominee for MP in your constituency? Does your vote count as equally as everyone else who votes? Are there higher ups in the party whose votes are "more equal" than yours?
There's no simple answer to this, I'm afraid. It depends on the party. Bear in mind that political parties in the UK are essentially private clubs - they are entirely free to set their own rules with few constraints (discrimination laws and the like). Pretty much like your local golf club, to be honest.

It's getting late here so I won't type up how it works in the party I usually vote for, but to demonstrate the complexity I'll probably have a single vote for the next leader via two routes: my union membership, and my membership of another political party. I haven't been a member of the party I usually vote for for a long time.
  #56  
Old 12-27-2019, 12:37 AM
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Iím not a member of a party, but I follow politics, and hereís how I understand it happens in Canadian parties.

In addition to leadership conventions, the parties also have policy conventions, where they debate policy proposals, annually or biannually, depending on the party. Each riding (constituency) association can send proposed resolutions, and also send delegates to the convention. The convention debates policy proposals from the riding associations, and depending on the party rules, there may also be proposals from the floor. The resolutions that are passed go into the partyís policy book.

That doesnít necessarily mean that the party will campaign strenuously on all the policies in their policy book. The campaign committee, the party leader, and the incumbent Members have the major role in choosing the campaign planks, based on what the party membership has put forward, and also their view as to what makes for a good campaign, based on their experience on the campaign trail.

So, the rank and file has influence on the campaign, but arenít determinative. On the other hand, if the leadership snubs the party membershipís policy proposals and takes the party in a markedly different direction, that results in lost memberships and loss of door-knockers.

If Ultra Vires joined the local conservative party riding association and paid the membership fee, he then could participate in proposing resolutions from that association. If heís persuasive enough, the riding association policy committee might agree with his proposal and send it to the party convention resolutions.

Then Ultra Vires could put his name forward to be one of the riding associationís delegates to the policy convention. Maybe thereís several folks who want to go, and he has to win a local vote. Or maybe thereís not many interested and the association is glad to have a volunteer to fill their slate of delegates. Depends on the dynamics in the association.

If he goes to the convention, then he has to try to get people to back his policy resolution. Best to start working the phones well in advance, calling other like-minded delegates from other riding associations, to try to build a core of support for his proposal.

Sometimes thereís so many resolutions that the conventionís resolutions committee weeds out the ones that donít seem to have much support, so it helps if itís not just Ultra Vires pushing for it. Depending on the size of the convention, if the resolutions committee passes it, it might go to a subject-matter committee, where similar resolutions are grouped together. Maybe Ultra Viresís rťsolution gets sent forward to the plenary. Or maybe thereís a similar resolution that appears to have greater support and it goes forward, and Ultra Vires has to decide whether heíll support the similar resolution.

Finally, if it reaches the plenary, Ultra Vires and his supporters that heís built up will make the case for the resolution. And theyíve probably been talking it up in the various committee stages and the hospitality rooms, trying to garner support. Maybe it passes and becomes party policy! Or maybe itís rejected, but by a close enough margin that encourages Ultra Vires to keep trying to build support for next time. Or maybe itís defeated by a strong vote against, and it doesnít look worth trying again.

So yes, as a party member, you can try to develop policy and shift the alignment of your party. But youíve got to be prepared to put work into it. This is classic organizational politics.
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  #57  
Old 12-27-2019, 02:14 AM
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Oops - meant to preface that post that it was in response to Q2 in post 45.

In response to Q1, in Canada the local association nominates, but the nomination has to be approved by the party leader under the elections law. That is a powerful means of central control, but it has to be used carefully. If the leader regularly blocks the nomination by local associations, the party might face a grassroots revolt. But, it is there to help the parties maintain party unity.

For example, in the late sixties, official bilingualism was a major issue. After a bruising internal debate, the Progressive Conservative party adopted a policy in favour of official bilingualism. Then, one PC constituency association nominated a candidate who was strongly opposed to official bilingualism. The PC leader refused to sign his nomination paper, because it was important that all candidates supported the party policy on the issue.

Of course, there are ways for a leader to influence local nominations short of refusing to sign. For example, if local party officials start getting comments from people at the party central office that ďIíve heard through the rumour mill that the PM has being saying heís heard good things about candidate AĒ, and never anything similar about any of the other candidates, that tells them something. And then if local MPs and maybe a Cabinet minister start talking up candidate A, and not commenting on other candidates, that too sends a message that the local party members will get.

And then, I think all parties are now requiring potential candidates to fill out detailed application forms, asking about any skeletons in the closet: criminal convictions; youthful indiscretions; social media history; and so on.
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  #58  
Old 12-27-2019, 03:10 AM
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You don't get a pretty certificate of membership in the UK, you do get invitations/reminders about local and national party events and activities (campaigning, fundraising, social) and pressure groups and special interests within the party. To be thrown out of the party you have to do something pretty heinous, like electioneering for the candidate of another party. Internet social media has tended to amplify opportunities for members to "bring the party into disrepute" (or some similar concept), which is why Labour appears to have been dragging its feet dealing with allegations of anti-semitic comments from some members, and the Tories likewise with anti-islamic comments, but that sort of thing can get you thrown out.

Most parties tend to allow for "conscience" differences when it comes to religion and "sin" issues (like policy on drink, sex and gambling) - they aren't usually considered central issues of confidence in the leadership.

To go back to UltraVires's questions of yesterday:

Numbers of party members are a small proportion of the electorate as a whole. It used to be more. Back in the 50s, Labour, as an alliance of mass-membership trades unions affiliated organisations and individual activists in constituency parties, would nominally count their members in millions: but unions wielded a vote in blocks, and it was open to argument as to how democratically any one group decided how to cast its block of votes. Likewise the Tories counted lots of people who belonged as much for social reasons as for political dedication, but to have a vote on anything you had to turn up to meetings, and even then the "great and the good" locally and nationally tended to settle as much as possible beforehand.

Over the last 30 years or so, all parties have experimented with various procedures and systems for internal decision-making towards much greater formal and auditable individual voting. The union block vote is much less significant in Labour (but they have financial muscle), and the Tories have formalised their leadership elections and experimented (once) with an open "primary" for the selection of a parliamentary candidate (but policy-making remains firmly with the parliamentary leadership, I believe) .
Nowadays national leadership decisions have moved towards postal ballots, though there is some element of pre-sifting by the party's MPs and leadership: you don't get on the ballot paper without significant support from within the MPs (and in Labour's case the unions). Local decision-making is still often mostly in meetings.

There was much sarcasm that Johnson was elected Tory leader and hence PM by a membership of less than 100k people, skewed towards the white and elderly. On the other hand, Corbyn's candidacy attracted a wave of young individual members, pushing membership up near the 500k mark for a time.

On influencing policy:

"Entryism" by organised groups with an ideological agenda always a possibility and has on occasion been a problem for Labour (from the left). You can read up about Militant in the 1980s, and similar complaints have been made about some people in the Momentum organisation and the Corbyn leadership team today. But it tends to face obstacles because the "units of selection" it has to work with are small and diffuse: 650 different constituencies. It's not that easy to force re-selection of a sitting MP, and even a favoured candidate of the entryists can "go off-message".
It can be more noticeable in candidate selection for local councils, particularly where a local party doesn't have much of a strong and active membership and it can be difficult to persuade people to stand for the council.

But to sway a party nationally on a policy issue, you need to demonstrate that it stands to win votes if it agrees with you, and lose if you don't. Usually that means: found your own party and draw votes away from the established parties. That's what Labour Party centrists did with the SDP in the 80s, which ultimately led to the Blair/Brown reforms and success for Labour, and what Nigel Farage did with UKIP and more recently the Brexit Party. The latter won nothing - but only because the Tories have progressively "stolen their clothing", not only on the EU issue, but with a vague bid and a wink to Farage's newer ideas on politicising non-partisan and independent institutions and regulators.
  #59  
Old 12-27-2019, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Sure, but what is the importance of the Trotsky and Whites Forever party being able to get 5% of the vote under a new system instead of the 0.1% they get now? So that the Democratic and Republican candidates can get those votes reallocated to them respectively?
It means that people who want the main parties to be more extreme have another option besides staying inside the party trying to mold it in their own image - they leave and start new parties. If they're right that their position is popular, then they get vote share and some MPs - if they're wrong then their shiny new party rapidly dies, but in any case, the core party is free to stick as close to the middle as they like, and only move once the extremer party has demonstrated ( by getting votes) that their policy positions have actual popularity. And they only have to move a little bit - just enough to erode New Party's share.

In a ranked choice system, the Tea Party, for instance, wouldn't have stayed inside the Republicans, primarying moderate candidates and forcing Republican-minded people to vote for TPRs in the congressional elections because there was no moderate Republican on the ballot. They'd have gone off to be their own party, who people could choose or not choose on their merits, leaving the rest of the republicans to define themselves how they like
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  #60  
Old 12-27-2019, 10:40 AM
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Post 57 is similar to policy-making processes within the major UK parties too, with some variations. The Tories keep a tighter central control on formal policy-making, the LibDems tend to have policy proposals developed through a separate "policy forum" process, rather than just have a more random process of ideas and commitments (or flaming rows about them) emerge in the full annual conference. Labour under Blair did something similar, I believe, but I'm not sure of the details of their present system. What's common to all of them is that the party has a significant ongoing identity embodied in a leader and surrounding team all the time. Whereas sometimes it looks as though in a US party different parts of it go off and do their own thing most of the time, until they finally choose to redefine themselves when they choose a presidential candidate.

And, yes, all parties in the UK have a process for usually prior vetting of people who want to stand for election, as to their competence and suitability. Usually you can't apply to a local party for selection unless and until you're on that list and have been through whatever training the party offers. There may also very likely be some sort of A-list of favoured candidates the central party organisation and leadership want to find a safe or winnable seat for: and local party organisations may well find themselves pressured to adopt someone off that list, or an existing prospective candidate might be induced to stand aside for such a person, or the party may even have some emergency rule that allows the central organisation to simply take the process over and impose a favoured candidate.
  #61  
Old 12-27-2019, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
Grieve didnít stand in the general. Hammond did, and cake second as an independent, which is a pretty strong showing.
You've got this backwards. Philip Hammond stood down and did not contest his seat.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/...cies/E14000907

Dominic Grieve did contest his seat as an Independent. He came second.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50779331
  #62  
Old 12-27-2019, 12:05 PM
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Oops, quite right. Thanks for the correction.
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  #63  
Old 12-30-2019, 08:48 AM
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UltraVires
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1) What percentage of voters and/or voting age population become voting members of the party in their own constituency?
Aspidistra gave the numbers for the Australian Liberal Party as 80k = 0.5% of registered voters. The Australian Labor Party are about 50k members though the majority of trade unions in Australia are affiliated to the party at a state level.

Quote:
1.2) And if I pay the 25 pounds for membership, do I get to vote in a "primary" where my party's MP is selected? Is my vote on equal footing with other members/the national party
At the preselection meetings (for all the major parties at least ***) all votes counted have equal weight and you need to be present to vote.

Quote:
1.3) In your opinion, does this system tend to shut out moderates as only the most vocal are likely to pay money and get involved in party politics?
No, it doesn't shut out the moderates. The party branch membership may well be more ideologically true but getting their man or gal into parliament is the aim of the game and in Australia the parliamentary members are almost without exception centre left to centre right. (because of compulsory voting and the bulk of the electorate are centre/moderate). A key determinant of a candidates ideological alignment is which political party faction the candidate comes from or joins.

The rather small number of hard or radical Left/Right nutters who get into Parliament either do so via the Senate (Leyonhjelm, Anning, Carr, Cameron, Bernardi, Hanson-Young etc.) by virtue of proportional voting from party lists or standing as independents. Independents only win if they get the votes from at least one of the majors so most independents are populist rather than radical.

Quote:
2) How does a voter or group of voters go about changing a party platform?
For the ALP the principal policy forum is the National Conference, held every three years. This forum determines the ALP parliamentary party policy. For the Liberal Party the equivalent is the Liberal Federal Council which meets annually and advises but doesn't set policy for the Parliamentary party.
There are multiple ways to become a delegate to either of the party's national forums but you need to be more than a rank and file party member

*** I don't know well how Pauline Hanson's One Nations or the Palmer United or Bob Katter's Australian Party or Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party function but suspect the membership are rather more acquiescence of the party talisman's wishes.
  #64  
Old 12-30-2019, 10:33 AM
Northern Piper is offline
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Originally Posted by Ultra Vires
1.3) In your opinion, does this system tend to shut out moderates as only the most vocal are likely to pay money and get involved in party politics?
Not in Canada. As one Liberal political operative is reported to have said in last year's SNC-Lavalin matter, "It doesn't matter how good our policies are if we can't get elected to implement them."

The Liberal Party of Canada is one of the most successful political parties in western liberal democracies. It held office for 70 years during the 20th century. Normally that sounds like a corrupt electoral system, but Canada's elections have been free and fair for all that period.

Rather, the Liberals have been the ultimate centrists. They've been described as the black cat of Canadian politics, with nine or more lives, and always prowling around the centre. Going left when they sense the electorate is going left, shifting right if the electorate is shifting right, but always near the centre.

Interesting article in the New Republic from four years ago, when Trudeau defeated the Conservatives and won a majority: Why Is Canada's Liberal Party So Dominant?. (Note that the article points out that Duverger's [so-called] Law has never applied to Canadian federal politics, a point I keep making whenever FPTP comes up as an explanation for the inevitability of the US two-party system.)
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Last edited by Northern Piper; 12-30-2019 at 10:36 AM.
  #65  
Old 12-30-2019, 06:22 PM
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The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 sharply reduced the ability of people to form political parties and to describe themselves on the ballot. Partly this was because the various forms of party list-based proportional representation to used for the Scottish, Welsh & Northern Ireland devolved assemblies required a much sharper control over straw-man parties. Also the 'real' politicians were getting tired of people calling themselves silly names or deliberately confusing ones.
Previously, if you wanted to run as 'Real Conservative Candidate' there was nothing to stop you. In the 1982 Glasgow Hillhead by-election one of the candidates changed his name to Roy Harold Jenkins and called his party affiliation Social Democratic Party, hoping to cause confusion with the much better known Roy Jenkins, who had been a Labour politician and had changed to form the SDP with the so-called 'Gang of Four' The late Cmdr. W.G. Boakes used to run as 'Public Safety Democratic Monarchist White Resident', and consistently came last - probably because he refused to do any campaigning, maintaining that the name told the voters all they needed to know.
Now your party had to be registered with the Electoral Commission, who could rule on what you could call it. If they didn't like what you wanted they would refuse to register it, and you would just have to run as 'Independent' (many people do).
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