Friday, April 03, 2009

My jury still out on Jury Team

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.

1 comment:

Andromeda said...

I trust you will find the letter below to the Jury Team dated 20 April 2009 self-explanatory.


Dear Sirs

I refer to your email to me of 15 April, disqualifying me as Jury Team London MEP candidate on the grounds that I support discriminatory policies.

I vehemently deny this and challenge you to produce any evidence. My policy statement explicitly states that I wish to repeal all anti-discrimination legislation.

While I am aware that the BNP is a race-based political party that denies that anyone non-white could ever become a part of the British nation, it does not follow that doing a deal with them amounts to supporting them.

My statement on the Democracy Forum you referred to made clear that I would only vote for them if I won through their support of me in sufficient numbers. In other words, my support for them was always conditional upon winning.

It is possible that I would not have voted for them even if I had won through their support.

The clause in your agreement stating:

“I agree not to support any policies discriminating on the basis of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religious or other belief”

was at no time infringed, and you cannot find any statement I made that would prove I have infringed this.

In any case “other belief” would also include beliefs of the BNP.

As a supporter of direct democracy, I would have no reason to exclude anyone from the political process on grounds of political belief. All I was saying was that anyone who felt strongly enough to participate in the political process, such as BNP supporters who suffer discrimination on grounds of their political views, deserve to have their grievances heard, without being accused of being evil racists.

I am surprised and disappointed by your attitude and the action you have taken since, not only have you ignored the literal meaning your own term, you have taken action that is completely against the spirit of what you say you stand for.

Since there is little point re-entering the contest at this late stage, please would therefore return the £10 that I had to pay to become candidate.