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It’s time we moved back to MPs choosing the party leader instead not members

March 28th, 2019

Having a leader who is not the choice of MPs will inevitably lead to problems

Consider where British politics is quite likely to be in a few months time – LAB still being led by Corbyn who is opposed by most of his MPs and Johnson being the CON leader in spite of his relative lack of parliamentary support

Both would be in their jobs because of their appeal to party members and neither command the support of their parliamentary parties. Given the main role of a leader is to head the party in the Commons then it should be those who work alongside MPs that should have the final say.

One of the difficulties that Ed Miliband had during his five years at the top was that he wasn’t the choice of his fellow MPs. In the ballot in 2010 he was nearly 9% short of his brother David amongst the parliamentary party.

Corbyn’s position is much worse because as we saw in 2016 a vote of confidence in him amongst the parliamentary Labour Party he secured just 20% of the vote.

Going back within the Tory Party would Iain Duncan Smith have been elected leader in 2001 if it had been left to his parliamentary colleagues. I suggest not. What happened during a critical time in British history, the Iraq war, the party and the country as a whole would have been better served by the Conservatives if the leader had been more able to hold the government properly to account.

The big difference between the Conservatives and labour is that there is a simple process within the former for an elected leader by the membership to be ousted. That’s what happened to IDs in October 2003.

This fad of letting the membership decide is a very modern. Labour introduced it in the early 1990s with John Smith being the first leader to be elected partly by members. The first Tory leadership contest to involve the membership was in 2001.

There was a thread on Twitter a few weeks back which I’ve been pondering about ever that suggested that one of the big problems in British politics is that the main parties select their leaders by leaving the final decision to the memberships.

This diminishes the role of the individual MP. Sure party members should be able to choose their candidates in their constituencies for general elections but that suggests that being involved in the final choice of a main party leader is not a good.

Why should  members, most of whom just pay their subs, be the ones to choose?

 

Mike Smithson