Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sue Doughty writes: Why we should move to One Member One Vote

At Federal Conference in Glasgow, we will be debating a proposal to move from the current system where local parties elect their conference representatives who then are able to vote at Conference and also vote for members of the key committees that run the party. Why change what seems to be working?


It seems odd that the most democratic of the large parties doesn’t already have One Member One Vote (OMOV) but much more importantly we are preventing many of our members participating in key decisions which affect party policy and indeed the party itself. The majority of our members now join online and although some of them join following contact by the local party through literature or canvassing, our research shows that most of them join because of our national politics and indeed, to participate in policy making.  However if their local party is weak and fails to involve them, or has fewer than thirty members they are not going to get the chance to do this at Conference.

Some members find it impossible to get nominated as voting reps. With the increase in people who rent their homes and move more often, links with local parties and getting that nomination can be a challenge even for the most determined member. Not all would-be reps are successful.

In Scotland any member can attend and vote at the Scottish Conference and since the introduction of this change there have been no adverse outcomes.

Although there has been an increase in the number of reps a local party can elect - a welcome move - this doesn’t sort out the basic problem that you can be paid-up but not vote.

We certainly don’t want to reduce the link between a local party and its members. I hope that local parties will be holding events to discuss upcoming conferences and ensuring that any member going is included.

As for candidates for the key party committees, they will need to make sure their manifestos set out clearly their qualifications to stand rather than trusting that the same faces will be elected by the same reps.

There will be a lively debate at conference but I hope that as a result of this we can become a truly democratic party that trusts its members to do what is right.