Since my first comment on the Jury Team I have wavered in my thinking. Am I in favour, am I not. I am in favour of the idea of widening participation in politics. While parties are perhaps necessary in terms of having a strong unified government (the fragility of coalitions highlights this point), they are also closer to cartels than they should be despite years of reform. I also think that independent MPs, either party members of true independents, are a great asset to politics. Love or hate George Galloway and what he stands for he is a positive force within democracy and pluralism. But I also have reservations.
Although I think it is unlikely, what if they were elected? Would there suddenly be new cartels, what would make them better than those we have. While parties may not vet candidates always in the way we would like, who is vetting the Jury Team? If anyone can stand then is that more dangerous? (I do think some are standing just to get publicity - one leading candidate in the South West region Miranda Banks has all of 37 votes but promotes her professional website which offers 'mind coaching')
Then there is the X Factor text voting. Anyone can only vote once from any one phone, but it would not take much for someone to stack the deck in their favour by getting a lot of mates to send texts. Finally there is the issue of the number it takes to select them. An interchange via Twitter highlights this: Jury Team argue "if we involve more people in choosing our candidates than the Parties do, our candidates'll have greater legitimacy"; but as their questioner Fabienne notes "Just seems 2 undermine the venture somewhat where interest is so visibly seen to be lacking... a winner w/ 20 primary votes = embarrassment, no?" Yes it does, that is the problem.
So I am still undecided whether the Jury Team will have the intended, positive effect. If they can start a debate, and there is indications that the media are interested also, then perhaps they can; but fundamentally I think it is the parties that need to respond to this debate. They need to take on board the argument the Jury Team are making and put that at the heart of reforms of the system - not just that of expenses - that gives people a sense of ownership and power within politics. The Hansard Society have released the latest Audit of Engagement, the story is the same, interest is strong, participation is weak, efficacy is low; my problem is I am not convinced that Jury Team offer a viable solution.