Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Primaries are Infectious: Ask MP Sarah Wollaston of Totnes, UK

In 2009 Dr Sarah Wollaston became the first candidate for election as an MP in the UK to be selected by the Conservative Party through an open  primary.

Danniel Hannan says this about the primary selection method:

Once one party adopts open primaries, the others will more or less have to follow. People won't realise it for a while, but today has changed British politics – changed it utterly, permanently and benignly. Dr Wollaston's victory is a giant step towards making our government accountable to the people.
He notes that the Tory primary drew a surprising large percentage of total voters in the constituency:
Twenty-five per cent of voters took part in the poll – a higher figure than some full by-elections have registered. That this should have happened at a time of general political alienation is extraordinary.
The article points out the advantages of an open primary system:
  1. A big chunk of the electorate had made the doctor "their candidate" – this made her a formidable opponent when the election for the MP rolled around.
  2. She had a massive media headstart over the other parties candidates in the general election.
  3. The electorate chose her, not party apparatchiks.
We certainly should consider holding primaries for the selection of our candidates for MP in all the 308 ridings, as well as for the Liberal Party leader.

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