Cameron’s Open Primaries Will Entrench Our Corrupt Parties 8

Constitutional reform is in the air, and our corrupt political parties are trying to point the debate in directions which will entrench and enrich themselves still further.

James Purnell’s plea for the taxpayer to fund the parties should be rejected out of hand. So too should David Cameron’s call for “Open Primaries”.

Cameron does not mean open primaries. They would not be “Open” at all. I could not say that I consider myself a Conservative and stick my name down on the ballot paper. No, we would be presented with a carefully vetted shortlist of unpleasant party hacks determined by the party. They would then be able to shove yet more propaganda at us, and at great public expense the taxpayer would foot the bill for an election between them.

The result would be yet more attention for preening party politicians, and a still greater electoral advantage of exposure for them over independents and small parties. Or is the state going to run primaries for all the parties, including UKIP, Greens, BNP, Libertas etc etc?

The American system manages to produce even lower levels of voter turnout, even less range of political opinion, and even more dominance for corrupt party machines, than our own. I can see why the Tories would want to promote the model. The voters should tell them to get stuffed.

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8 thoughts on “Cameron’s Open Primaries Will Entrench Our Corrupt Parties

  • JimmyGiro

    The entire concept of a funded campaign is nothing short of prostitution, the promise of performance, with cash up front from those with the biggest dicks.

    Maybe we should have an official internet hustings; an encrypted forum whereby only registered candidates can post their manifestos for public viewing; they could even submit YouTube type videos.

    The price of registration as a candidate would be open to all, and replace the deposit system. This way all candidates would have equal opportunity for impact, rather than rely on who has the biggest pimp network.

  • Tristan


    Just like postal voting and most other reform promoted by the major parties (the exception being a decent PR system), they benefit the established powers.

    Whenever politicians propose something you should ask ‘Cui bono?’. Usually you’ll find its the politicians and their allies.

  • unseen

    The American electoral system does not produce lower turnout. That effect is likely down to the difficulties in registering to vote in the USA. There you have to actively register to vote, whereas almost everyone in the UK is automatically registered by their local authority.

    Comparing turnout of registered voters (rather than all voters), the USA is probably a little ahead of us.

  • SJB

    Why should state funding of political parties be rejected out of hand? If we fail to at least examine the pros and cons of this option then it seems likely that a few rich people and organisations will continue to exercise undue influence through their financial contributions.

  • John

    The French system, of a first election day and then, if necessary, a second one a week later for top two candidates has a lot in its favour. It would allow a route in for ANYONE. Some theoretical delay in forming the new government, but often enough constituencies will have been settled that an overall govnt can be set.

  • Ed Davies

    unseen: taking your argument to its logical conclusion: let’s charge, say, £1,000 for vote registration then we’d get pretty much a 100% turn out amongst registered voters.

    John: how’s the French system much of an advantage over STV? In practice with STV you list the candidate you want to win then the one of the two leaders you dislike least. Being able to list all of the candidates in order of preference (which is not the way it works in the London mayoral election, AIUI) would mean you don’t even have to guess the two leaders.

  • yassau nafti

    I too am seriously worried this this current brouhaha is providing an opportunity for reform of the type that will undermine the already fragile democratic institutions and such checks and balances as currently exist.

    I’m not in favour of “primaries” or proportion representation if either of these reforms provide a greater opportunity for political parties to control and restrict the favoured few who get on the party list.

    With regard to the funding of political parties, generally I’m against it, for all the reasons that have already been mentioned ( mainly that it sqeezes out the smaller parties and independants). What’s wrong with this idea: political parties are given an “allowance” for each member of parliament that they return; let’s say £200,000 per annum; MPs are NOT given any money in salary,expenses, allowances, pension etc; it is for the political party to allocate the money as they feel fit either as salary, expenses, allowances, pensions or whatever or alternatively to retain their party allocation for centrally funded admin, communication etc etc or for whatever “special advisers” that they feel they might need. It is therefore up to political parties to pay their front and back benchers whatever the party thinks they might be worth and for the party to monitor the expenses.

  • SJB

    Yassau – if an MP’s income is determined by his party then will that not lead to even more lobby fodder?

    What concerns me is that income derived from party membership is low – for example, in the 1950s party membership was measured in millions but no party today has more than 300,000 members. Over the same period campaigning costs have risen. The gap has been filled by some controversial characters in the past. I seem to recall one donor gave £50k and subsequently sold his company for £20 million after being awarded a government contract. Therefore, it seems to me that it is in the public interest for state funding to be considered. I accept there are questions of how much should be distributed and how the funds should be allocated. I would be interested to know how other democracies have approached this matter.

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