I’ve long been an advocate of relaxing the restrictions on campaigning in Liberal Democrat committee elections and other internal contests (with some success), and this year’s federal committee elections saw the first outing for the more relaxed committee rules.
I think they worked well – with one interesting, unintended but welcome consequence. The new rules meant it was possible for more public discussion to take place about the elections, especially on social media. As a result, rather than being a mostly private contest between the candidates and voting conference reps (the electorate), without the rest of the party hearing much if anything about the contest, instead this time the contest was played out online and visible to party members who were not able to vote.
Making it more obvious to people who didn’t have the vote that they don’t have the vote, inevitably with hindsight, has therefore also generated more debate than in the past about whether that’s right.
Obvious with hindsight, but not an impact I can recall anyone (including myself) predicting. A welcome case of unintended consequences, however, as whatever your view on what the electorate for these contests should be, wider awareness and discussion of the rules by which democracy is run in an organisation is always an important part of ensuring that the democracy is a healthy and meaningful one.