Friday, May 27, 2005

 

Parties impose at their peril

Strange how often political parties make the mistake of trying to impose edicts from on high. This almost always backfires. Labour should have learnt this after the debacles associated with imposing Alun Michael on the Welsh Labour Party and Frank Dobson as the antidote to Ken Livingstone in London. But no. They sought to impose an all-women short list on Blaenau Gwent(Nye bevan's old seat), thus displacing Peter Law as the candidate who had assiduously cultivated this safer than safe Labour stronghold. So a majority of 19,000 was turned into one of 11,000 for the independent Peter Law.

And now Labour headquarters are busy expelling those Labour supporters who worked for the rebel challenger. Nothing can be more calculated to inflict major damage on Labour in Wales than this flagrant defiance of local loyalty and local sentiment. Welsh people hate being dictated to especially by those 'sais' in London.

But what is this we seee in the Conservative Party? Few deny that the system of electing leaders, giving the final say to party members-average age in the late sixties- was a silly way of preserving the party in the aspic of views rooted in the fifties. But the way in which Central Office sought to introduce the necessary changes together with a 'piggy back' of restrictive rules on MP behaviour was equally foolish and has caused the predictable furore just when an 'orderly progression' was much needed.

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