Yesterday Barnet Labour held a private meeting to discuss the future of the group. Leader of the Labour group Alison Moore faced a Leadership challenge from Ross Houston, a long standing councillor and well respected member of the group. It appears that Andrew Dismore, defeated PPC for Hendon, threw his weight behind Moore continuing as Leader, enabling her to retain the Leadership. Not being a member of the Labour Party, I had been unaware that the subject was up for discussion at the meeting. In fact I wasn't even aware the meeting was being held. Had I have been, I would have done what I always do in Barnet when important decisions are being made. I would have written a blog detailing my views on what should happen and why I have formed those views.
It is a matter of public record, that when Richard Cornelius was elected as Leader of the Barnet Conservatives, everyone knew and the merits of the candidates were publicly discussed on this blog. Whilst the actual vote was secret, the process wasn't. I believe political parties should be open and democratic. I believe that important events like Leadership elections should be publicised and that all local members should be given a vote. In a democracy, this is how things should work. Ballets should be secret, but discussions should not be.
Sadly the Labour party is more arcane and secretive thann the Kremlin. When I tweeted the result of the election, I was shocked to find that members of the local Labour Party were actually cross that this had been revealed. Why? Are Barnet Labour not a democratic Party? Do they not believe that the public should know that the Leadership of the Group has been discussed? Do they not beleive that the people who put them into office in the council, enabling them to receive juicy allowances from the taxpayer are worthy of being informed of elections of a Leader?
I have formed the opinion that politics in Britain is rotten to the core. The vast majority of people are completely divorced from politics, completely disengaged from the process. If Barnet Labour had held an open, secret ballot for Leader of the group of all members of the Party, then there would be no discussion, no bitterness and the Leader would be able to claim legitimacy amongst the group. Of course there would be a short period where difficult conversations may be had, but at the end of this the party would be united and stronger. Whilst it is up to the Labour Party to decide how it conducts its business, I cannot believe that a party that believes itself to be open and democratic can seriously defend stitch ups like this. If Moore had carried on as Leader following an open honest discussion and a secret vote of all the membership, then that would be the end of the matter and people like me would have nothing to say.
This blog believes people have a right to know what goes on in our neighbourhood. We believe that dodgy deals behind closed doors are why people are disengaged from the political process and lack trust in politicians. Everyone is entitled to their views in a free and democratic society. Everyone should be invited to contribute to decisions that affect them. As the Leadership of the Labour group has huge ramifications for everyone who lives in the Borough, if they are having a leadership debate, everyone should be aware, everyone should have their say and every member should be given the opportunity to contribute to the process and cast a vote. For the record, I believe the same should be true for the Tory Group. We should know what the candidate stand for and why they think they are fit to be leaders. Sadly we are left with this arcane system, where Barnet style Kremlinology rules.
I invite anyone from the local Labour party (I am not a member) to submit a guest blog responding to this blog.