Are public elections the only ones political parties should fight?

A question for you to mull over…

Why should a political party restrict itself to fighting public elections? Why not also take part in the myriad of other elections that exist, such as those for directors of companies?

Instead of complaining from the sidelines about how a council behaves, we fight elections to change its decisions and methods. The same logic could apply to companies, hospital trusts, housing bodies and may more, all of which – like the bodies we fight elections for – have significant power over communities and individuals.

Trying to change the directors of a newspaper group would certainly make a change from complaining about the activities of the titles…

5 responses to “Are public elections the only ones political parties should fight?”

  1. A related point. I hold a few shares, mainly in privatised utilities. It’s noticeable that when I get an AGM agenda, I’m not invited to help choose directors, only to approve or reject those on the list. (I’d be amazed if a director suffered a majority for “reject”. Has it ever happened in a public company?)

    There’s never(?) a list of people from whom one can choose. We need to require companies to offer a list of, for example, at least 6 candidates if there are 4 vacancies on the board. Only then will it be practical for political parties, pressure groups or trade unions to get involved.

  2. About 10 years ago I tried to get Lib Dems in the North West to stand for elections to the Co-op at a time when there was a reorganisation and so lots of vacancies (over 50 iirc). I must have spoken to thirty or forty constituency organisers, senior politicians etc.

    Only one other person stood. We were both elected and there were still a number of vacancies, but still no other interest and ultimately Labour filled the spaces.

    Thinking only that far outside the box was not one of our strongest points.

  3. I have long thought that the elections for trustees and directorships at local level, and certainly for national plc’s, do not give enough information to have a truly democratic election. I agree with Eryl Bassett’s views – and this could be a subject of further debate and possible policy as Nigel Hunter suggests.

    Although a political party label may not give sufficient nuance to be able to discriminate between candidates, at least this is a fairly clear indication of philosophical perspective which would/could influence subsequent behaviour on the Board. However, I would point out that it is very dfficult to see if this is happens in reality as reporting of decision making on Boards is patchy at best – even if they are held in public, and most are not, so you have to determine discussion and voting from ‘thin’ minutes.

    Whether we can get our membership base to get involved, as David Evans points out, is another matter. I would point out that in many of these elections including the ones for my Co-op, and Hospital Governor Board, that since I don’t know the candidates – and their contact details, addresses and manifestos [for want of a better expression] are not published – I would not know if they are Labour activists or not!

  4. Yes we should; on all levels in the community! We do soft politics badly. Here in my local area in North London, Lib Dems are described by my Labour-voting neighbours as only ever seen delivering leaflets and knocking on doors at election times. Labour are seen all the time in all voluntary bodies, at all communal activities. (They also take over any initiative that is successful and then unscrupulously turn it into a campaigning tool come the first election.)
    My local Lib Dems do not mix politics with jam making, cake stalls, park volunteers groups or gardening clubs. I was recently accused by one of our local party members of cynically exploiting social activities for political ends (I participate in many local initiatives and have set up a couple myself). What political ends? I am actively campaigning to get Lib Dems elected as councillors in my ward. Social and political engagements, apparently, should remain separate.
    There appears to me to be a degree of pomposity and self-importance in refusal to mix the mundane of our every day lives with political engagement, which is made into a higher, loftier ambition than winning a prize for such a trifle as a cake. First, it takes much effort to make a cake and a degree of bravery to enter it into a competition. Second, you can’t be any good in politics if politics is all you do and you are interested in. I have made my support for our ward’s candidates conditional upon their engagement with local groups and initiatives in the ward. I know it will help them win a few votes. I also know it will make them better councillors should they get elected. And that will ease the burden of campaigning next time round.

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