WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Open primaries mean we have options chosen by us, not for us

13 October, 2017

• THE mass resignation of councillors before next year’s borough elections affords Islington Labour the opportunity to strengthen local democracy by holding open primaries for the selection of replacement candidates (Councillor who ‘can’t afford to live in Islington’ stands down, October 6).

The majority of residents doesn’t wish to belong to any political party, so, short of a “None of the above” option on the voting-form, they’ll once again be faced with choosing between options made for them, not by them.

This is the 21st century, and the political scene is changing fast. Participatory, not top-down, politics are the only progressive and democratic way forward. Open primaries are a step in this direction – and might even increase the abysmally low electoral turnout.

This win-win situation is surely something with which Councillor Claudia Webbe would agree? Ms Webbe has been pushing for national Labour Party members to have a greater say over the selection of MPs. Surely she won’t oppose residents having a say over those who seek to represent them on a daily basis?

To its lasting shame, the Labour Party continues to oppose proportional representation (with the exception of a few independent-minded MPs, though both Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry are opposed).

It prefers to stick with the old, establishment, “first-past-the-post” system blighting our democracy. Backing open primaries would give Islington Labour a lead along a path towards a much-needed participatory political future. Question is: does it have the guts?

MEG HOWARTH
Ellington Street, N7

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