14 October 2009

The logistics of primaries

There has been a lot of talk in the Labour Party lately about introducing some kind of primary election system to select parliamentary candidates. Althought I believe there are significant concerns around containing costs of selection procedures, I am generally supportive of the idea.

The Progress think tank has picked up on this issue with some zeal and is running an excellent campaign to push for their introduction in the Labour Party. Additionally, the Fabian Society outline some plans in its 'Change we Need' pamphlet, published early in 2009.

Although there is clearly much debate to be had around the details of primary elections, I believe the mood is shifting in the party to being overwhelmingly in favour of this new method of selection.

My question is simply this - if we decide we want them, how do we get them? The Conservatives seemed to test drive primaries relatively easily and with very little fuss; they should of course be commended for experimenting with new methods of empowering local voters. What I want to know is how would a Labour Party constituency go about introducing a primary selection procedure? Would there need to be substantial Labour Party rule changes? Could a local constituency just announce that they were planning to hold a selection in this manner?

If anyone knows, please tell me!