Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Most Powerful Thing A Genuine Lobby Group Could Do Is Something a Government Sock Puppet Couldn't
A few years back, candidates wanting to stand as Labour/Co-operative Party joint candidates ran into a legal problem, despite the tradition of such joint candidates stretching back many decades. The Electoral Commission decided that, on close reading of election law, it was not legal for such joint candidates to have a logo appear next to their name on the party ballot.
Cue a flurry of election law changes to remedy the situation .....But in that mis-reporting is a germ of an idea which a pressure group could adopt.
A candidate for a political party could stand as a joint candidate, with a joint description and special logo on the ballot paper,* reminding voters at the most crucial key final moment before voting that this candidate is the one which gets their approval.
This idea of pressure group acting as minor political party in order to win coverage on the ballot paper and hence increase its electoral leverage – both to get candidates to agree to its policies and then to win votes for those candidates who do – is something aficionados of American politics may
It is what US political parties such as the Working Families Party do, with a few wrinkles due to the different electoral law their but the same underlying purpose and method.
Imagine, for example, a group of environmental lobby groups setting up their minor political party and offering its ballot paper endorsement to candidates who back its policy.
Agree with them and you’re Labour? Fine, you get to stand as the Labour Party / Green Coalition joint candidate, so described on the ballot paper. Agree with them and you’re Lib Dem? Then it’s the Liberal Democrats / Green Coalition you appear as and so on.
This would simply extend the existing tactic of a pressure group asking candidates in a constituency their views on some set questions and then publicising the answers back to a relatively small number of voters signed up to the organisation in that constituency. Extend however in a crucial way.
Because by getting the answer as to who is most favoured on every printed ballot paper, it would take their message not to a small audience, but to the whole electorate.
Now that really would be a pressure group putting on the pressure.
I think that is a pretty good idea, but not particularly for the LDs for reasons I explained in a comment I placed. It is clear from the way he describes it he is thinking of lots of right on politically approved pressure groups could pile on to the LDs forming a band wagon.
The main one, mentioned in another comment, is the Electoral Reform Society, which has long been the LDs in academia. However as I commented the LDs are no longer the most electable supporters of proportional representation. I would be quite comfortable with an ERS logo added to LDs or Greens in those areas where the Electoral Calculus said they were the main contenders and added to the UKIP logo where we are (& conceivably also a few Labour and Tories who had a genuine record of rejecting the whip to support PR).
With public support for PR running at about 70%:20% that could indeed be enough to make PR supporting parties a majority. I trust Mark would still support this, as a matter of principle, even though the main beneficiary would be UKIP.
The other advantage for opponents of overweening government (but disadvantage for LDs) would be that the Electoral Commission could never legally allow a government financed sock puppet to thus register itself as a party.
With almost every "Green" charity except Greenpeace, funded 70% by the EU and most of the rest by the British state no "group of environmental lobby groups setting up their minor political party and offering its ballot paper endorsement to" LibDems would be lawful.
But real organisations which aren't government funded fakecharities could. Who would the Migrationwatch Party or the Taxpayer's Alliance Party be likely to endorse? That's what I thought too,
Incidentally, with the typical commitment to free speech of the Pseudoliberal party my comment, when, after a undue delay, my comment appeared, mention of the government sock puppet problem had been removed ;-)
Another commenter had, quite independently, mentioned the Electoral Reform Society, which is not surprising.