From issue 12: We should elect our council leaders!

By Shaughan Dolan, Harrow West CLP secretary

The Labour Party’s democracy review is an exciting moment for change. It could help put members in the driving seat, helping them push home an agenda truly representative of our party.

So I want to ask the question – why do we let Councillors elect leaders? We wouldn’t stand for it if the leader of the Labour Party was elected on the basis of a backroom stitch-up, yet for local authorities we tolerate exactly that.It’s time for Borough Labour Parties to elect their own leaders – using one member, one vote.

Legitimacy is a core part of governing and any local party that feels that it is being imposed upon, rather than represented by, any council leadership team is quickly going to see declining membership, campaigning apathy and internal frustrations.

Local manifestos are framed by the leader,with little or no input from members. Leaders are able to choose cabinet members and so hold financial and political power over other council members.This is a recipe for intellectual sclerosis which can produce manifestos without the creativity, innovation, or bold opposition to Tory austerity we need.

Electing our council leaders will mean candidates will have to win votes based on competing visions of how local authorities should be run.

True democracy means democracy at every level. Directly electing council leaders can lead to a renaissance of Labour ideas across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom, galvanising local parties and electrifying our base. Democracy can be the fuel for legitimacy, renewal and our electoral success.

You can submit your ideas to the Labour Party Democracy Review here.

Let us know what you think! Write a reply?

1 Comment

  1. OK, sounds reasonable. But there are problems:
    What electoral system should we use for the mayoral election? FPTP? AV? Highest two Run-Off?
    What if a mayor is elected who’s a different party to the council majority? It could happen, under any electoral system. Do they then pick a cabinet full of their party members and ignore the rest of the council? If they did this and their proposals failed to pass, as is likely, what would be the repercussions?
    Personally, I think it’s a good idea, but needs to go hand-in-hand with electoral reform at council level.

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