Now that you have a cause, how do you achieve it?
How do we become politically active in the UK? How do we ensure that petitions are properly addressed in the UK Parliament and in our local County, District and Parish Council’s?
Our problem is that we have been tricked about the importance of our vote. With that not working for most people, we risk civil disorder and societal breakdown when the political establishment inevitably diverges irreparably from that of the local communities they are supposed to serve.
The key to bridging that gap is to understand that voting is about 20% of your democratic duty. In the majority of constituencies seats never change hands so the impact of mosts votes are important but not dramatic.
If votes are maybe 20% of political power, what is the remaining 80% and how do we exploit that power?
The first question to ask is, who is the most powerful person in your Parliamentary constituency? Many would say the MP, this would be the view of the majority of people who believe that their vote is 100% of their democratic duty. In actual fact the most powerful person is the Chairman of the local political association of the party that is in power, with the Chairmen of minority parties also being extremely important.
The Chairman presides over an Executive Council of Officers, all of which are elected, along with the Chair at an Annual General Meeting that is comprised of members of that local political association. These are the elections that really matter because they set the scene for the local and general election but they are never reported. Is this because some people do not want you aware and involved?
The Executive Council appoint candidates for local elections with then elected members deciding local party policy. They work with head office to determine what candidates will be put forward to hustings to run as MP and they can vote to remove an MP from the list. The Executive Councils of your local political associations are therefore the real political power behind the politicians, which is why they are never reported on by the media. Anybody can attend the AGM or hustings if they are a member of the Party and local Association and Members can nominate candidates or put themselves forward for vacancies. It costs around £20 a year to join a Party.
Your MP is selected in local hustings, which can be attended by Members. In my most recent local hustings, prior to the last General Election, I was one of five selecting our candidate for MP for a constituency with over 60,000 people. I was able to ask questions to the candidates at the hustings and this genuinely altered the outcome. This is how candidates for Parliament are selected. Those numbers explain why they are rarely representative, but that also renders the existing system and those that thrive from it vulnerable to people like you getting involved.
No MP or elected Councillor can sustain their position if they lose confidence of the Executive Council of their local political association and no Executive Council can survive if they lose the confidence of local Party Members. This hidden power is taken advantage of by only about a million people, or 1.4% of the population, with many members not bothering to attend AGM’s or election hustings. No wonder our politicians are rarely representative.
To put this into context, had the 30,000 people who attended anti-lockdown protests in Trafalgar Square joined a local political association of their choice and then used their influence to influence and where necessary change who represents them in the Association, lockdowns would have ended yesterday. This apathy also helps explain why the majority of Brits were for Brexit yet the majority of MPs were for Remain, with this divide being replicated along most issues. As we retreat, the corporate and sometimes foreign lobbyists march forward. This sort of division is reflected across the board and can only be resolved by more than 1.4% of the population becoming engaged with the running of their local, private political organisation. Voting and writing to your MP are important but not enough on their own.
The first stage is to join, observe, see how things work, identify which members of the Executive Council and which Councillor’s and MPs are sound and which are not asking them their positions on the issues that matter to you and your family. Identify how they are appointed, how many votes are required to replace them, whether there is an existing member who could replace them or if new members and candidates are required.
Start low with unimportant positions like the Social Secretary and then work you way up to the Chairman. Identify how many like minded people must be recruited to shift the balance of power, they may well respond by sending more people down to hustings and AGM’s to counter your votes, but at least then you are battling for the soul of democracy toe to toe and the more that people engage, the healthier politics will become, because those that are turned out to counter your vote will tend to be more moderate and less fanatic than those who do not need encouragement.
Once the local Association is full of those who genuinely want good things and who are not there to be part of a social club, once the Association starts to put forward candidates with conviction that you can believe in, you may decide to devote time to campaign for candidates.
If you find a large group of local people willing to join to take back your constituency party, don’t join all at once for risk of being accused of “entryism”, which can be blocked, spread out when people join. At meetings, try to disguise your familiarity and coordination with others in formal settings, for example spreading out in a meeting room rather than all sitting together, don’t make it too obvious that you are working together to replace evil councillors. Stand up for those who ask questions who are told to be quiet, by standing up, ideally from the other side of the room, saying “I wish to hear this person”.
This is the method by which wafer thin minority groups like Momentum have taken over a significant number of local Labour Associations. They could not have done that had the majority of people engaged in their local political associations. Some local associations have even been taken over by minority religious or even criminal organisations, our apathy creates a vacuum that will be filled.
USA does better because all registered voters vote in Primary elections to select the candidates for the party that they are registered with (Primaries are the US version of Hustings) and around 25% of the population, over 80 million people are members of a political party, but in America also not enough get involved in their actual local Party events like AGM’s and there are vast numbers of vacancies in local associations not filled, again, due to apathy.
In 1962, John F. Kennedy famously said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
The Parties of the United Kingdom that you can join and infulence:
Before discussing the main Parties, I would like to point to Havering and Epping Forest Council‘s where a significant number of the establishment parties have been displaced by Resident Associations, which are probably the only organisations capable of major local campaigning.
The Labour Party: was formed in 1900. With around half a million members is by far the largest political association in the UK, disproportionately so vs the amount of votes they obtain from the general public, but this is still only an average of 770 per constituency and so joining can still make a huge difference. Labour is affiliated with the Co-operative Party, which contributes 26 of the Party’s MPs. They are associated with the SDLP in Northern Ireland.
Those who join the Labour Party will join their local Constituency Labour Party (CLP), who’s main decision-making body is normally its General Committee or All Member Meeting. Day-to-day management is generally carried out by the Executive Committee (EC). Members can nominate and vote in Officers in the AGM and can put themselves forward for positions. The CLP selects candidates for local and national elections in hustings where members can question candidates before voting on them. The CLP also puts forward delegates to the Labour Party Conference who alongside delegates from Trade Unions establish party policy.
The Conservative Party was formed in 1834. It has just 170,000 members with an average of just 261 people per constituency and so new members can expect to have significant influence. Its full name is the Conservative and Unionist Party since 1912 after merging with Northern Ireland’s Liberal Unionist Party, which objected to home rule. Prior to that it was the Tory Party, founded 1678 that was, prior to that Royalist Cavaliers. The natural partner to the Conservatives in Northern Ireland is the Democratic Unionist Party.
Those who join the Conservative Party will join their local Conservative Association (CA) An executive council of officers are elected every year by members at an annual general meeting. Members can also nominate candidates and put themselves forward. The Executive Council picks shortlists and candidates for local Council positions, choosing the Lead Councillor and having a say over the Cabinet and local policy. Members get to question candidates for Parliament and vote on them at hustings events. Members also get to pick the Leader of the party out of the top two candidates and we are anticipating a leadership challenge soon by those MPs that seek and end to lockdown.
The Scottish National Party has around 130,000 members with an average of 1,780 members per constituency. It was founded in 1934 with the amalgamation of the Scottish Party and the National Party of Scotland, with the latter being the first Scottish nationalist party, formed from various nationalist campaign organisations. The Scottish Party was formed in 1932 by a group of members of the Unionist Party that had its origins in the Liberal Party and therefore Whigs and Roundheads.
The local Branches are the primary level of organisation in the SNP that members join. All of the Branches within each Scottish Parliament constituency form a Constituency Association, which coordinates the work of the Branches within the constituency, coordinates the activities of the party in the constituency and acts as a point of liaison between an MSP or MP and the party. Constituency Associations are composed of delegates from all of the Branches within the constituency.
The annual National Conference is the supreme governing body of the SNP and is responsible for determining party policy and electing the National Executive Committee with delegates elected from Branches and Constituency Associations. Members elect the executive of their local association and are involved in selecting candidates for local and national elections.
We are particularly interested in hearing from SNP members interested in the legalisation of raw milk in Scotland.
The Liberal Democrat Party has around 115,000 members. It was founded in 1998 when it merged with the Social Democratic Party that had splintered from Labour in 1981. They are associated with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. Prior to they were the Liberal Party, which unlike the Liberal Democrats was also economically liberal (today would be called Conservative) as the party of Adam Smith and the industrial revolution. The “Conservative” parties in Canada, Australia and New Zealand are called the “Liberal Party”.
Prior to this the Liberal Party were formed of a merger of the Whigs, Radicals, Peelites and the Independent Irish Party, with Whigs being the main element. The Whig Party was formed in 1659 and was proceeded by the English Civil War’s Parliamentary Roundheads. They were responsible for the Claim of Rights, the execution of King Charles I following their defeat of Royalist Cavaliers and they won the Glorious English Revolution against Tory opposition, delivering an end to the divine right of Kings and today’s Parliamentary Democracy, which continues to be defined by the Bill of Rights (1688), which remains in force in the UK, Ireland with minor revisions and also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was one of the main inspirations for the US Constitution. Scotland has its own Claim of Rights (1688).
The Liberal Democrats have a federal structure with various federated regional Parties. These drive policy making alongside various specified groups that feed into particular policy areas, which can be joined.
Members join their Local Party and elect their Executive Committee, also having a say on candidates for local and national elections, with Local Parties feeding into the Federated Regional Parties that feed into the Federal Liberal Democrat Party.
Liberal Party: Following the formation of the Liberal Democrats, a splinter Liberal Party continues, which claimed that the Liberal Democrats had turned their back on Liberal economic policy. It has a number of local Councillors in Liverpool, Peterborough and Ryedale, With a number of Parish Councillors throughout the country.
Plaid Cymru is the Welsh National Party. It has almost 12,000 members, with just over 300 members per Welsh Constituency.Click Here to Register if you wish to comment on the article.