We might follow leaders we got to pick ourselves
Should other than Caucus members of Parliament determine the leadership of an Australian political party?
We have all known that despite all the talk, the leadership of political parties are not determined solely by Caucus members of Parliament, they are influenced by a range of factors including public sentiment and in the case of the Labor party, the leaders of relevant trade unions.
The release of Paul Howes’ book, In Confessions Of a Faceless Man, does not diminish those assertions.
Paul Howes in an interview last week makes this clear “We (unions) formed the Labor Party in 1891. We have formed a view on the leadership of the Labor Party every time there has been a leadership change since 1891.”
He then goes on to say “you’re seeing a lot of people in the Labor movement, in the Labor caucus, in the Ministry, in the Cabinet talking about the need to be a more open party, to be a more inclusive party, that we actually are a team and that we are a movement.”
So if that is the case, and there is a withering membership of political party membership bases as evidenced by former NSW minister Rodney Cavalier in his recent book, Power Crisis, should the major Australian political parties consider alternative models in determining their leadership?
The Australian Democrat members were given the unique opportunity to vote for the leadership of their party by directly voting in the process, and that’s done nothing to stop their withering membership.
Unlike the Australian Greens, which decided at their 2005 national conference to abandon their long-standing tradition of having no official leader and approved a process whereby a parliamentary leader could be elected by the Greens Parliamentary Party Room.
Many followed with great interest the election of Ed Miliband, over his fancied opponent and brother David in the recent leadership contest of the British Labour Party.
In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party is a membership organisation consisting of Constituency Labour Parties, affiliated trade unions, socialist societies and the Co-operative Party, with which it has an electoral agreement. Members who are elected to parliamentary positions take part in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
The party’s decision-making body on leadership takes places at the Labour Party Conference. Delegates to the conference are elected by Constituency Labour Parties, affiliated trade unions and socialist societies. Currently, affiliated trade unions hold 50 percent of the votes at the conference.
The PLP also have representation at Conference.
In the United States, a much more drawn out and expensive process, candidates go through primaries, before being endorsed at the National Convention. The primary elections are run by state and local governments.
A state primary is like an indirect election: instead of voters directly selecting a particular person running for president, it determines how many delegates to each party’s national convention each candidate will receive from the state. From the national convention the party’s leader is determined.
The Liberal party of Canada, determine their leadership at the National convention. Similarly the Conservative party of Canada, the governing party, determine their leadership at these conventions, perhaps the equivalent of Australian Labor party National Conference.
Without stating the obvious, it seems similar democracies use their national conventions to determine their party leadership. Perhaps it’s time for the major Australian political parties to consider the same.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…