Over the next few weeks the Tory party membership will be choosing the next prime minister of the UK, during what is arguably the most turbulent period in British history for decades.
The party MPs will, tomorrow, narrow the candidature down from the remaining three of Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May to just two. The Tory party membership will then make the final decision on which is to be crowned via a postal ballot – unless two of them agree to drop out now, so that a simple ‘crowning’ can be achieved.
This all seems rather simple until you marry two things together: firstly, the sheer gravity of the situation the UK is in regarding it’s democratic way forward and secondly the rather tarnished record on elections that the Tory party has now acquired.
Are we really expected to entrust the future of this great nation to the outcome of an election organised by the Conservative Party and overseen by the party’s 1922 committee? Are we really expected to accept the outcome from what will be, to the general public, an opaque and unaccountable party system when the stakes are so high?
Now, I’m not calling for a national election on Tory party leadership, that would not be appropriate. What I am asking for is proper transparency when an election will determine who our next Prime minister will be.
In general, the leaders of a party is within the powers of that party’s membership to decide and is not really of concern for the rest of us as we can take that into account when voting. But where a serving PM is to be replaced then the nation deserves the knowledge and comfort that all is above board.
The public should know who is actually running the postal ballot, what the question on the paper is and be assured that no ‘extra paperwork’ is inserted in the envelope with the ballot paper that might ‘push’ the voter to choose a particular candidate.
Then there’s the count. Who does it and who oversees it? What are the safeguards?
When a party leadership contest will result in a new PM being immediately selected, then I believe that legislation should be there to answer the sort of questions I have alluded to above. Especially in these days of the severe mistrust of politicians.
The Conservative Party could deal with this immediately by agreeing for representatives of other parties to observe all proceedings should they so wish. That way the public would be assured of transparency and that the new PM really is the choice of the party in power.