It’s time for a Political Parties Act to fix our broken politics

Matt Snape argues the only way to restore trust in our politics, is to give control of Political Parties back to the People

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Matt Snape
On 26 May 2019 18:15

I have been a member of the Conservative Party for twelve years and I, like so many others who have been members for longer, have never witnessed a huge disconnect between activists and MPs in our lives. Following on from my interview with Emily Hewertson, who openly declared she is voting for the Brexit Party on BBC Question Time, it is clear many Conservatives no longer feel the party represents them.

Theresa May scuppered the National Convention’s motion at the Spring Conference this year to:

-ensure we leave the EU on March 29th.

-keep no deal on the table.

-refuse to participate in the European elections.

Considering the European elections are likely to be a bloodbath for the Tories, if the Prime Minister does not withdraw Britain from the EU soon, she is likely to destroy the Conservative Party. This would be a sad end to what has been the most successful political party in the world. And if it survives, lessons need to be learnt in case another issue divides the Tories to the extent EU membership has. It is time for a Political Parties Act to fix our broken politics.

Margaret Thatcher was instrumental in reforming the unions during the 1980s. In the 1970s, trade unions were destroying the fabric of the British economy, leading to the three-day week and blackouts. Under Thatcher, secondary picketing was outlawed, strikes could not happen without the support of union members and this all brought down NUM head Arthur Scargill in 1984-85. Thatcher returned the unions to the people, and it’s time for political parties to follow suit.

Many Conservative associations have introduced primaries to select parliamentary candidates. Mid Worcestershire Conservative Association used a primary to select Nigel Huddleston as their candidate for the 2015 General Election. A Political Parties Act must make this law, rather like it is in the United States, so that more people have the freedom to register for a primary. This would mean parties would not be able to control who signs up and no one can be thrown out, as Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) are proposing to do with activists openly admitting to voting for the Brexit Party. There would be no assessment boards, and anyone registered as a Tory, Labour Party member etc can vote in a primary for their MP. There should also be mandatory primaries that provide members with the opportunity to challenge their incumbent MP. This would also discourage entryism, which prevents members from progressing in a party and allows senior figures to purge activists.

Prior to the 2010 General Election, Eric Pickles’ Chief of Staff, Andrew Griffiths, threw out a York University Tory called Ralph Buckle. All the York student said was that he understands why people are voting UKIP, but Mr. Griffiths showed no mercy and suspended him out the party. Yet the Daily Mirror reported that Pickles’ former chief of staff sent lewd text messages demanding sex from a barmaid called Imogen Treharne. What right do Conservative MPs have to expel members when they do not abide by their own moral code? This practice should end. Only a Political Parties Act can do that. It is the only way to restore trust in politics.

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