Community engagement? Democracy?
Today, Inside Croydon is attempting to bring a touch of democracy to the election process in Croydon, with the borough’s first ever online open primary.
The open primary is the system used in the United States, where short-listed candidates try to garner support from everyone in a constituency, of whatever political persuasion.
This weekend, a panel of 10 Labour party members will conduct a star chamber-style selection meeting of the women who have put themselves forward for consideration to be their party’s next candidate for the Croydon Central parliamentary seat at the General Election, probably in 2015. No one, outside those hand-picked 10, gets a say in who ends up on the short-list.
Those who pass this stage will then go before the Labour party members in the constituency next month for the ultimate selection.
Notionally, there are about 300 Labour members in Croydon Central. Will as many as one-third of those actively engage in the selection decision? In some of the ward selection meetings staged in the borough recently, they’ve been lucky if they have had enough to fill Jerome K. Jerome‘s boat (to say nothing of the dog, Montmorency).
Inside Croydon gets more than 1,500 readers on an average weekday. We are inviting them all to cast a single vote for their chosen candidate from the 10 women.
Below are links to 10 brief profiles of the candidates, based on their election literature and their responses to five not-so-serious questions.
In one case, we were unable to send the questions to the candidate, since she had not included any contact details in her application nor published anything in print or online. Others chose not to respond. That may influence your choice. Or it may not.
In 2010, Call Me Dave Cameron described open primaries as an “exciting opportunity” to engage with voters and the Coalition Agreement promised: “We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this parliament, targeted at seats which have not changed hands for many years.”
It was among one of the first promises of the ConDem government to be broken.
Dr Sarah Wollaston was selected by the Conservatives by open primary to be their candidate in Totnes. Duly elected as the Devon town’s MP, she is regarded as an independent-minded and outspoken constituency servant, not the archetypal party hack who is normally presented with the opportunity to stand for the major political parties. Tory party loyalists refer to her as “awkward”.
There is the matter of the £40,000 per constituency cost that the Tories would have to find, though as Wollaston observes, in this era of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, in which the British public enthusiastically engages in the voting process in their millions, cost-effective online polls could easily work.
Now that could mean that we end up with a dog act or some Hungarian shadow puppeteers at No10 Downing Street, but would that be any worse than what we have now?
So, here’s your chance to take part in Inside Croydon’s first open primary.
We will keep the poll open after this weekend’s short-listing exercise, right through until the candidate is chosen next month.
Most polls are normally arranged with the candidates in alphabetical order, which gives a built-in advantage to those with surnames that start with a letter at the beginning of the alphabet. We’re using our software to randomise the candidates’ order, so please make your choice with care. And you only get one vote, though do please share on social media to encourage others to take part.
JUNE 30 UPDATE: Following the short-listing meetings, we report on those candidates going forward, and provide a revised poll here
Candidate profiles: Click on the names for more details on each applicant, including links to their personal or campaign websites where available.
- Ten women declare for Labour’s Central shortlist
- Butler quick to declare candidacy for Labour nomination
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source that is actually based in the heart of the borough – 267,670 page views Nov 2012-Apr 2013
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