Thursday, August 01, 2013

Could Jenny be just right? #greenparty #houseoflords

The UK system of democracy is fascinating. It's main body is elected by first past the post, a less than proportional voting system. The check and balance to this group is a body (now) appointed by groups that sit in the body they scrutinise.

Today a list of peers was released indicating who was nominated on behalf of which party. As per usual it's an embarrassing mockery of the principle of fair scrutiny. Party donors and former elected leaders of representatives fill the list.

Two names stand out though. First is Doreen Laurence. Nominated under a labour flag, she had spent a decade fighting the system to bring justice. How will she continue that fight and challenge the system when being politically whipped and sitting among those who may have failed her and her case?

Image by Tanoshimi released under Creative Commons
The second is Jenny Jones. A former Mayoral Candidate and current Member of the London Assembly, her appointment at first appears like the usual affirmation of the political norms. However, as a member of the Green Party - who are opposed to an unelected second chamber - she has been suggested in a unique manner.

A few years ago all Green Party members received a ballot paper. This asked each of us to vote for who we felt would make the best representative for the party in the upper house. Anyone from the party could have stood and between us we voted Jenny top.

Now we are in the situation of putting theory into practice. Jenny's move means she has a unique angle. She enters the lords and has a real mandate to be there from the party she represents.

For some greens this single act is nothing more than sacrilegious defamation of the Green Party's aim of a wholly elected second chamber. For me though, her taking the role is no more an affirmation of the House of Lord's then Caroline Lucas's win under First Past-the-Post being a green acceptance of the current voting setup.

The challenge for the Green Party is to take this further. To think about how, beyond the membership, it can discover other to elect to fulfil greenparty coverage in the House of Lords. Today doesn't mark the end of green disappointment in the House of Lords, it marks the start of subverting the selection system and opening up of how people get there.

Next is what happens when she gets there. will she vote and speak regularly? will she advocate for progressive politics or will she simply drift away to be an occasional attender and voter? The first act of quiet revolution is to take power - the second is how you use it. will she continue to bring a different approach? Nobody knows, only she is in control of that.

1 comment:

  1. Bob Irving4:27 pm

    Judging by the way she has shredded Boris at every conceivable occasion, I cannot imagine Jenny Jones "drifting away" while there are fights to be had with tories of all colours in the HoL