Entryism and political parties

One of the freedoms we enjoy in the UK is the freedom to join a political party of our choice, or to ignore them all if we wish. Some of us wish to be very  active in our democracy, others wish just to vote or occasionally join in the public debate as they see fit. Some do not participate at all.

The process of joining a political party is normally very easy. You get in touch with the one you like, through their national or local office. They send you details of the costs of membership and you pay and join if you wish. There is no form to fill in about your  views, no formal  interview to test out what your beliefs and opinions are. Parties tend to the view that people only join them if they are broadly in agreement with them. Parties assume people interested enough to join are sufficiently aware of the main propositions their chosen party stands for.

Various parties do have rules about not belonging to a rival party at the same time, not acting to undermine the party’s candidates in elections, and not saying or doing things that reflect badly on the party. Each party has a reputation to maintain. Parties wish to be welcoming and usually want more members, but do see that if someone has a chequered political past they may need to veto their membership or seek promises about future conduct. There is a difference between someone changing their mind and converting to a different party’s general view, and joining with the intention of trying to make the party joined like the one the person has just left.

Entryism has become an issue in the modern Labour party, raised by the party’s own Deputy Leader in an unusual public attack on the leadership. The concern is that people who  belong to another party or ginger group like the  Socialist party or the Alliance for Workers Liberty  or the Communist party may join Labour in numbers to push its agenda into line with the agenda of their real party or lobby group. This is not an easy matter to deal with. Some on the left would say these pressure groups are entirely legitimate and form part of the Labour family. Others think they are out to subvert their view of what Labour is and stands for. The rules are meant to stop anyone belonging to  both the Socialist party and Labour., for example.

If those who wanted out of the EU had joined the Conservative party en masse in recent years instead of joining and promoting UKIP they would have been welcome, as long as they did not also hold views that the Conservative party strongly ruled out . They might have helped change party policy towards the EU more than we managed anyway. Personally I would have had no problem welcoming mainstream UKIP supporters who simply wanted the UK to leave the EU into the Conservative party, as that view was a popular view within the existing Conservative party. They could not of course have at the same time continued with UKIP membership or sought to promote UKIP candidates.

What do you think a party should do to attract the right members and avoid the wrong ones? Or are there no wrong members, other than law breakers?


  1. mickc
    August 13, 2016

    The Conservative Party actually having Conservative policies and leaders would probably boost membership a huge amount.
    Cameron and Osborne going was a good start; a necessary, but not sufficient condition.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      August 13, 2016

      That probably sums it up.

      Entryism is only a problem when you have a weak and soiled brand, out of government anyway, which people with a weaker sense of identity sense they can use for their own purposes. UKIP and what it stands for has its own strong identity; May May or May not take up some of its ideas-time will tell, but the rank and file Tory party has a separate identity and agenda to the rank and file of UKIP.

      When was the high water mark of the Conservative Party in modern times? I think most would say 1987, when there was a straightforward approach to the issues of the day rather than a “triangulation” or “inclusive” agenda. Corbyn is doing well because he’s a pretty straight sort of guy, albeit the policies are misguided.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 13, 2016

        Indeed Corbyn is misguided, but seems rather better than Owen Smith to me, even though his economic policies would clearly be a disaster (especially for Labour supporters). But Smith’s are no better and Osborne’s were dire enough.

        All we need is smaller government, less red tape, lower taxes, no EU, cheap energy, sensible immigration only and functional, competitive banks. Get the government out of the b****** way. But is Mrs May a real Conservative or not?

        1. fedupsoutherner
          August 13, 2016

          Spot on Lifelogic. I would totally support the Conservative party again and become a member if they were truly Conservative. All the issues you have highlighted are of importance to so many of us. Get back to grass roots and regain your popularity. At least I know where I stand with UKIP on so many issues. No if’s and no buts.

    2. Lifelogic
      August 13, 2016

      Indeed especially as about 60% of the Tory MP’s are essentially Cameron/Osborne types. Essentially Libdims who are pro EU, pro ever more tax borrow and waste, against grammar schools, against freedom, pro ever more government & red tape, pro central wages controls, pro the absurd fake “equality” agenda, pro the free at the point of rationing, non treatment and death NHS and pro all the absurd subsidised over expensive green crap energy and even pro HS2.

      Which side is T May on? The indications so far are not very good. Perhaps her climbing up the Swiss mountains will give her brain some oxygen and make her come down on the right side. The side that wins three elections as Lady Thatcher did rather than chucking (sitting duck) elections away as Heath, Major & Cameron did with their soft, pro EU, greencrap, tax borrow and waste, big state, socialism.

      1. stred
        August 14, 2016

        I am in the Swiss mountains too. No sign of Mrs M and her bodyguards so far.The Swiss I talked to think it will be a big problem having a Remain PM when trying to escape. They wished us well.and asked for the reasons why we wanted to leave. They know the problems.

        They have similar problems to the UK, with property prices too high for young people and continuing home grown daft regulation. There are new factories, commercial centres and housing sites all over but very high prices. But they are very glad they are independent and have referendums when they want. And they think the House of Lords is a joke.

        Also, a very clever 3 year old Swiss boy told me he tought I was ‘cool’. So far his parents haven’t had him tattood. Perhaps he thought my lack of them was a la mode.

      2. getahead
        August 14, 2016

        With Cameron from at the outset claiming to be “the heir to Blair”. Another Nu Labour party? Just what the country didn’t want.

        1. Jerry
          August 15, 2016

          @getahead; “Just what the country didn’t want.”

          The election result figures say otherwise, even more so if you add the two “heir to Blair” contenders (Lab and Con) together, were did the “heir to Thatcher” party come?… I do not recall they won a single seat in 2010 – and of course in 2015 and since UKIP have been repositioning themselves as some sort of heir to the old europhobe Labour party!

    3. Jerry
      August 13, 2016

      @mickc; But what are Conservative policies, ask a thousand different people and you’ll get a thousand different answers. Also how do you guard against just introducing ‘churn’, I have no doubt that if the party leapt to the (europhobic) right as some commentators on this site wish there would be a boost in new memberships (or long-lapsed rejoins) but how many existing members would leave via the opposite door either by returning their cards or allowing their membership to expire – more importantly though, how many of the voting electorate who are not supporters via party membership would also seek out a different party to vote for, or perhaps non.

      The most successful post war period for the Conservative party was in the 1950s, and elected three times to government on merit, by contrast the 1980s were good simply because there was no effective opposition party worthy of election! Perhaps that tells us something about what Conservative party policies should be about?

      Reply There is an official party policy on most things – it is a combination of the Manifesto pledges and current government policy.

      1. Edward2
        August 13, 2016

        Surely the most successful period was from 1979 with four election victories by Lady Thacher (3) and Sir John Major (1)
        To claim they won because the Labour Party wasn’t popular is a very negative way of looking at it.

        1. Jerry
          August 13, 2016

          @Edward2; I answered your point in my original comment, how about you actually read what I’ve said!

          Mrs Thatcher won one election on merit alone (1979), as have many leaders before and after, but as Labour, the Liberals and SDP were in disarray with useless and-or inept leaders/policies from 1980 until after the 1992 election what ever the Tory Manifesto said it was very unlikely they would not have got working majority, if not a landslide. Had Labour been stronger in 1987 I wonder if Mrs T would have still made the Community Charge (that amounted to a ‘Poll Tax’) a manifesto pledge for example?

          Just to balance, and further explain my opinions, because the Conservatives were in disarray (due to the party infighting) between 1997 until after the 2005 election the 1997-2010 period that Labour are so quick to boast about was not their most successful election period, 1964 to 1970 was – Wilson won both 1964 and the ’66 elections on pure merit, against a strong Tory opposition.

          “To claim they won because the Labour Party wasn’t popular is a very negative way of looking at it.”

          It’s the truth though, spin if you want to, but the electorate are no longer for turning…

          The facts are just a few mouse clicks away these days, for example full statistical break-downs of all post war general elections, transcripts of the manifestos, along with many party political broadcasters etc, not forgetting the official Hansard site, can all be searched within in just a few clicks.

          1. Edward2
            August 14, 2016

            A ridiculous post Jerry
            Rewriting history.
            Trying to say the only reason Conservatives ever get elected is because other parties are poor.
            Insulting all other parties and the intelligence of millions of voters.

          2. Jerry
            August 15, 2016

            @Edward2; “Rewriting history.”

            Then cite some facts and debunk my opinion, rather than just being abusive all the time.

            “Trying to say the only reason Conservatives ever get elected is because other parties are poor.”

            I did not say anything of the sort, perhaps if you bothered to actually read my comment you would see that I said both the Conservative and Labour have both won post war elections on pure merit, against very strong opponents, but often their more recent re-election victories have come about because of problems within the parties if their opponents.

            The 1979-1997 period is not widely called Labour’s “Wilderness Years” by so many politicos (even those on the left) or political commentators for no reason, and are you seriously going to claim that the Tory party did not go through three leaders and a wild roller-coaster of a ride of policies between 1997 and 2005 as a result – yet you have the nerve to accuse me of rewriting history!…

          3. Edward2
            August 15, 2016

            In your numerous posts you said the reason the Conservatives won various elections was only because Labour were poor.
            I suggest you reread them and so your “I said no such thing” is wrong
            I have already said the period of 4 successive election victories from 1979 was the Conservatives most successful period in terms of years and the changes introduced.
            Just as Blair’s 3 successive victories were Labour’s
            The reference to the widerness years is a reference to being in opposition nothing else.
            Your take on political history is not accepted by historians and like your views on UK industry and the BBC is firmly set in the 1950s and 60s

    4. Mark B
      August 13, 2016

      Hear hear.

  2. Duyfken
    August 13, 2016

    JR: “If those who wanted out of the EU had joined the Conservative party en masse in recent years instead of joining and promoting UKIP …”

    Much as I am grateful for the excellent efforts by JR and his cohorts, Bill Cash et al, I reckon that had it not been for those joining, threatening to join, promoting and otherwise supporting UKIP (under the leadership of the extraordinary Nigel Farage), then we would still be waiting for an EU referendum.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 13, 2016

      Dear Duyfken–Totally agree but our whole system sucks–How can it possibly be that failure Cameron can be doling out mostly silly honours when Farage gets nothing? Farage should be made a Duke and given his own Blenheim by a grateful country.

    2. ksb
      August 13, 2016

      That saved me making a comment.

      Seconded… and my vote in 2020 will very much depend on how the decision to leave is implemented. I have huge respect for JR though as I’m sure he will be keeping the pressure on!

      That said, rather than exploiting the massive political gap in the center, UKIP appear to be mostly imploding as well, they really need to get Steven Woolfe or Suzanne Evans in the leader role asap and do some fast rebranding (as the I in UKIP has been mostly achieved 🙂 ). Then mop up the center-left labour vote.

    3. fedupsoutherner
      August 13, 2016

      I for one, joined. I would gladly come back to the Conservatives if they were truly Conservative and not a combination of the other parties. They have to be true to Conservative values for me to come back and vote for them. I see no sign of that yet but I may be pleasantly surprised if Mrs May gets her act together. I know many others too who feel the same way and many who are ex-forces.

      1. getahead
        August 14, 2016

        Perhaps the set of current political parties need to be realigned and renamed.
        UKIP is far more conservative than the so-called Conservative Party.

    4. Chris
      August 13, 2016

      Completely agree, Duyfken.

  3. eeyore
    August 13, 2016

    “What do you think a party should do to attract the right members and avoid the wrong ones?” Back in the 1950s, when membership of political parties was at a height, the Young Conservatives were one of the largest youth organisations in the country. Today’s Tory elder statesmen were more than likely Young Conservatives back then.

    I was never one myself but many of my schoolfriends were. The YCs offered much social activity, not much politics, and seem, in retrospect, to have been a useful, worthwhile and worthy organisation.

    Perhaps the zeitgeist has changed and there is now something both sinister and absurd in political parties’ catching ’em young. The shadow of the Hitler Youth, all hiking, communal singing and baggy shorts, seems to hang over the idea. But it may be worth looking at reviving some modernised version of it, not just for the Tories but for all parties.

    Reply The YCs were hit by the move towards many more young people leaving home and going to university. This altered the balance of the youth side of the party towards university enrolment, which turned out to be less successful, probably because there are many more other choices at university for people’s off duty hours.

  4. Bob of Bonsall
    August 13, 2016

    Try listening to the people.
    If there is a controversial project being pushed ahead, such as HS2 or Hinkley, and someone tries suggesting an alternative, listen to them and take note of their concerns and suggestions.

  5. Old Albion
    August 13, 2016

    “Personally I would have had no problem welcoming mainstream UKIP supporters who simply wanted the UK to leave the EU into the Conservative party, as that view was a popular view within the existing Conservative party”

    Oh come on JR! It wasn’t popular with the leadership. Cameron never wanted to leave the EU. He even went through the farce of ‘renegotiation’ that achieved nothing, in his determination to stay in.
    The offer of a referendum on the (dis)UK’s membership of the EU only got into the Conservative manifesto because UKIP were eating in to the vote of the other parties. Cameron feared he would not win the last General election without it.
    He sure as hell never thought the plebs would vote ‘leave’

  6. Lifelogic
    August 13, 2016

    What do you think a party should do to attract the right members and avoid the wrong ones? Or are there no wrong members, other than law breakers?

    Well giving more power to the members would be a good thing. What is the point of joining a party if you are held in total contempt by the leaders like Cameron and Osborne. Something seen in all its glory by Cameron’s contemptible “honours” list for remainers, now being nodded through by T May.

    As to law breakers we have enough of those as MPs as we saw with the expenses fiasco and the electoral law expenditure breaches.

    1. ksb
      August 13, 2016

      “As to law breakers we have enough of those as MPs as we saw with the expenses fiasco and the electoral law expenditure breaches.”

      Well, people are generally the main cause of ‘bad people’ 😛 I think the point is exclusion of people with previous transgressions rather than those not yet committed.

      Illegal acts already committed but not caught for are also difficult to screen out.

  7. Denis Cooper
    August 13, 2016

    Nah, if people who wanted to leave the EU had joined any of the old parties their views would have been submerged in the pro-EU views promoted by the party leaders. We have just had a referendum when the Tory Prime Minister became the de facto leader of the side determined to keep us in the EU at all costs! Setting up a new, separate party committed to leaving the EU was a much better way for them to promote their views, stir up public debate and shift it in the right direction.

    1. Chris
      August 13, 2016

      Yes, Cameron would never have acted on the EU unless he genuinely felt his position/power was threatened. It was to see off UKIP that he offered the referendum. The result illustrated how spectacularly out of touch Cameron was with the majority of the people of the UK who voted – something we former Conservative supporters had long complained about, and acted on, by moving to UKIP.

  8. Edward2
    August 13, 2016

    One thing is certain, allowing immediate voting rights for Labour party membership applicants on payment of three pounds was a disastrous policy.
    Many people joined (and some with multiple memberships it seems) in order to vote in a particular new leader.

  9. alan jutson
    August 13, 2016

    You paint a sensible picture of democracy John, but how does that transfer to action in the real world.

    MP candidates are more often than not parachuted in from from a National List, with local members having little influence over real selection of a local candidate, members are then expected to support and promote the Party candidate, with no opportunity to deselect if they prove to be unsuitable for whatever reason.

    Party policy is usually decided by the Party Leader, often against local members wishes, Conservative examples, gay marriage, immigration, inheritance tax, capital gains and other tax rates, defence cuts, wars abroad etc.

    Perfectly understand that you must have rules and a proper sense of behaviour, but if we are to work in a real democracy, then surely Party members should hold the power to influence or control Party policy.

    Aware that Labour are going through chaos at the moment, but at least their members are trying to get their policies moved forward, if the party gets taken over by a majority faction which is not popular in the Country, then they will not get elected, that is a simple fact and the democratic test.
    Those who do not agree with the direction of travel of any Party can either support another party closer to their beliefs, or start one that is.

    Reply Gay marriage was a free vote issue, not a party whip. In Labour the party through conference and the executive has some sway over policy. In the Conservative party the conferences provide opportunity for public criticism, the political side of the party encourages regular feedback from members, members can get involved in the policy work in the run up to the Manifesto etc.

    1. alan jutson
      August 13, 2016

      Almost forgot, the biggest lesson to be learned by all but one Party was their policy on our EU membership.

      The majority of all Political Parties and their Politicians was to support continued membership of the EU, the actual result of the referendum proved that all of them with the exception of UKIP were wrong.

      A simple sounding of all of the party membership would have told them that fact in advance.

  10. Denis Cooper
    August 13, 2016

    Off-topic, I’m glad to see some belated common sense over guaranteeing that money people had expected to receive from Brussels will be paid as promised, one way or another. Now we need some more common sense over guaranteeing that well-behaved citizens of other EU countries who are already resident here will not be turfed out.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 13, 2016

      Dear Denis–Disagree–Why should it be just us that must exercise common sense? This is a non-subject on any basis, it not being in doubt that EU citizens (even if badly behaved, I’d say) will not be asked to leave. It is just not going to happen.

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 14, 2016

        I’d hope those who are sufficiently badly behaved will be deported and barred from re-entry. Not for minor misconduct but for serious or repeated criminal offences, if they are not supporting themselves legitimately, or if they have only come to take unfair advantage of free medical treatment.

    2. Know-Dice
      August 13, 2016

      And the wonderful BBC suggesting that the money will have to be found out of the national budget, rather than either as a result of not shipping it to the EU in the first place or withholding it in the case that the EU pre-determines a result of Article 50 negotiations…

  11. agricola
    August 13, 2016

    In their quest for support parties can become far too broad a church, resulting in those who join only in fact joining a faction. This has resulted in both the Labour and Conservative parliamentary parties becoming so distant from their supporters amoung the electorate. This deficit in democracy has resulted in the Corbyn faction in the Labour party being at odds with the majority in the parliamentary party and out of touch with the aspirations of those who might vote for them en masse. For the Conservatives it led to the rise of UKIP for much the same reasons. UKIP have since thrived on the distaste for either of the two main parties among the electorate.

    I look forward to the day when we will have far more direct democracy in the form of referendums on major issues, and dare I suggest it, far more independant MPs representing their electorates views. The whipping and herding of MPs through the lobby at the behest of government out of touch with the people is demeaning to the democratic process. We have suffered much of this in the recent past. Sad really because it only leads to tears and disillusionment on the part of those who behave in such a dictatorial manner. They may be compensated by a stint on the lecture merrygoround. Why people pay good money to hear about failure I will never know.

    Reply The last Parliament had high levels of revolt against the whipping

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 13, 2016

      Dear Agricola–Of course we should have more referenda. I say ‘of course’ because of course the reason we didn’t till relatively recently was that they were impossible to hold without today’s modern technical gizmos. Think of the king having to consider millions of bits of paper or their being manually summarised. Ridiculous. It wouldn’t be so bad if Parliament came up with the goods but most of the time it doesn’t. The Swiss do OK.

  12. gyges01
    August 13, 2016

    I think the point of a political party is to exclude the general public from politics.

    When the Labour Party allowed people to vote for the leader of their party on the basis of a £3.00 membership fee they found that masses of people were eager to participate in politics. When this happened the parliamentary party showed their true colours by trying to exclude people from the party if they thought they were not going to vote how they wanted them to vote. They concocted specious reasons (infiltrated by Tories/Communists etc) to justify their attempted exclusion of the public from participating in the democratic process at a higher than usual level.

    I would welcome people who were in all parties. I see no problem with joining more than one party, the only reason I haven’t is that I don’t want to be discriminated against by one party for also being a member of the other party.

    Reply Party members are encouraged to support and campaign for local and national candidates for elections, candidates they have often helped select. It would not make much sense to be trying to do this for two different parties in the same election!

    1. gyges01
      August 13, 2016

      “It would not make much sense to be trying to do this for two different parties in the same election!”

      During the post election period, the point of being in two or more parties would be to try and influence the policies of the parties as much as possible. When an election is in the offing one would give full support to the party who had the best policies.

  13. Ian Wragg
    August 13, 2016

    ….the people who wanted out of the EU would have been welcomed by the Tories…..
    Pull the other one John. Without Nigel and UKIP there never would have been a referendum.
    There is still no sign of movement on leaving and the PLP is rabidly pro Europe.
    Time will tell and that is running out.

  14. The PrangWizard
    August 13, 2016

    Let’s not get diverted by UKIP/Conservative rivalry and issues; this is about revolutionary Socialists/Marxists/Communists or whatever similar label may be applied who are taking control of the Labour party with the encouragement of the present leadership. This is not therefore a case of a few local entryists.

    Those who thought Corbyn was a joke and what a jolly jape it would be to help get him elected were fools. There is an extremely dangerous situation now developing, and so far no signs of ‘moderates’ in the Labour party setting up another reflecting their beliefs. It may well be there are not sufficient of them courageous enough to detach themselves from the extreme elements now in charge. After all ‘solidarity’ is a very important issue for anyone on the Left.

    We may find ourselves in the next GE with a situation where the Conservatives are facing a very different Labour party; a revolutionary party intent on creating a Socialist state, which does not accept the rule of law and the democratic process, supported by union militants who hold the same revolutionary aims.

    And with the anti-Semitic and class warfare language being used by (some? ed) in and associated with the party we may find ourselves facing (worse problems ed). This has been allowed to rise through complacency and stupidity of the mainstream.

  15. Christopher Hudson
    August 13, 2016

    The U.K. should sort out its Energy policy and Heathrow: don’t China build about 20 airports per year and now we’re asking them to fund our light switches, dear oh dear.

  16. Anonymous
    August 13, 2016

    I could have joined the Labour party for £3 and helped wreck it, but that’s not the spirit of democracy and so I didn’t.

    A steeper membership fee is a clear barrier to those who are serious about a party and its prospects – also the attendance at a minimum amount of meetings per year should be stipulated. Any marked deviance from party beliefs should result in exclusion, though measured and incremental change in party nature (to adapt to the times) should be encouraged.

    However, I did attempt to join the EU S&D party as an exercise in seeing how democratic the EU actually is. Anyone claiming to be pro EU should be able to join an EU party as easily as they can a British one. Anyone claiming to be pro EU should be able to explain the different EU parties, their leaders and what they stand for but I’ve yet to meet a pro EU person who can.

    Alas there was no application to join the S&D party as a member and nor were there any replies to my emails.

  17. Jerry
    August 13, 2016

    Off topic; I read that the LGA is suggesting that they should be allowed to raise money by charging charge utilities companies for the time these companies spend digging up our busy roads. Surely this will risk a return to hasty and shoddy work as companies attempt to minimise such penalties for having to maintain their systems (and in the cases perhaps lead to safety issues), also these charges will likely be recovered from the customers via higher bills.

    1. Yosarion
      August 13, 2016

      They would be better towing away Cars parked on A roads and other Major routes, if they don’t stop all this I live in that house so I can park on the road or the pavement outside it nonsense, I think the Cancer that it is will just grind the Country to a Halt within the next few years.

    2. Edward2
      August 13, 2016

      Not if their work is checked by local authorities.
      Why should getting utility companies to be more considerate of the disruption they cause to others cause quality issues.
      Is there any suggestion you fail to post a gloomy negative spin to ?

  18. Deborah
    August 13, 2016

    “What do you think a party should do to attract the right members and avoid the wrong ones?”
    Show that it listens to its members rather than write them off as “fruitcakes”.
    I do not believe that the policies of Cameron’s Old Etonian Club Cabinet would have changed one bit, however many grass roots supporters clamoured for change.

  19. Margaret
    August 13, 2016

    I qualified as a registered Nurse in 1972 and since then there has been a rule with all employers that Nurses belong to a Union. If the rule applies that Nurses automatically belong to the labour movement because of that Union attachment then how can they also become a member of another party without having a split political grounding?

    Reply Many Trade Unionists vote Conservative and some join the Conservative party. You do not have to pay the political levy.

    1. CdBrux
      August 13, 2016

      Hasn’t there been some talk about setting up a conservative trade union?

      When I was working in Belgium I could have joined 3 unions and I seem to remember there was at least one which was described as Christian Democrat (i.e. centre right). I wondered why this was not done in UK where it seems an automatic assumption that if you are seen to be standing up for what is good and fair for workers in the workplace you are automatically left wing

  20. Denis Cooper
    August 13, 2016

    I see the Telegraph can’t quite get it right:

    “The money will come from Britain’s £8.5 billion net contribution to the European Union, which it will cease to pay upon its exit from the EU.”

    Meanwhile, Liam Fox’s department has made a blunder, publishing and then rapidly retracting a statement which envisaged that we could leave the EU without having settled any new trade arrangements with the other countries:


    I don’t see how this can fall within the remit of Liam Fox’s department rather than that of David Davis, so why did they even issue this statement?

    And why does Chuka Umunna omit to mention that if the EU imposed a 10% levy on our exports of cars to them then of course we would impose the same on their exports of cars to us, which in terms of value exceed our exports by a factor of three?

    Whether it was tariffs or non-tariff barriers to trade or just the collapse of the detailed practical arrangements to facilitate trade these impediments would cut both ways; those who predict that our cross-Channel exports would completely seize up and we would have queues of trucks back to Peterborough never complement that prediction by saying how long the queues of trucks would be on the other side of the Channel.

    1. John O'Leary
      August 13, 2016

      A little surprised at your statement there Denis. I know you read widely about matters EU. Do you not acknowledge that the EU as an RTA (Regional Trade Area) can under WTO rules apply the Common External Tariff to the UK if it leaves without a trade agreeement. (10% on autos)? Also that the UK cannot, also under WTO rules, retaliate by applying an equivalent tariff on the EU without also applying it to Japan, S Korea and other non-EU suppliers?

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 14, 2016

        But as an EU member state we’re already applying the EU’s Common External Tariff to imports from outside of the EU where there is no special agreement, so a worst case scenario for Japan etc would be that there was no change. The change would be that without a special agreement the EU would apply the Common External Tariff to us as well as to Japan etc and we would apply it back to them as well as to Japan etc.

        There was a myth circulating that if the EU applied tariffs to us then under WTO rules we would not be allowed to retaliate by applying tariffs to them because they have a Regional Trade Agreement.

        Firstly it’s difficult to imagine that over a hundred countries which are in the WTO but not in the EU would ever willingly agree to such an obviously unfair WTO rule.

        Secondly it’s difficult to imagine that the rest of the world would be up in arms even if there was such a stupid rule and we broke it.

        Thirdly, rather oddly, for the WTO a Regional Trade Agreement does not necessarily mean what any sensible person might suppose it to mean, and in theory if the UK could find just one willing partner anywhere in the world then it could set one up and gain any privileges that entails:


        “In the WTO context, regional trade agreements (RTAs) have both a more general and a more specific meaning: more general, because RTAs may be agreements concluded between countries not necessarily belonging to the same geographical region … ”

        “What all RTAs in the WTO have in common is that they are reciprocal trade agreements between two or more partners … ”

        Moreover existing RTA’s have overlapping memberships, so on the face of it there would be nothing to prevent the UK making a suite of them around the world.

      2. Denis Cooper
        August 16, 2016

        Comment missed for moderation here!

  21. Anonymous
    August 13, 2016

    BBC at it again.

    “The Government has pledged to fund farmers and scientists monies lost because of Brexit. This could cost £4.5b a year.”

    We are net contributors to the EU.

    The BBC lies time and again about who pays for farmers’ and scientists’ funding.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 13, 2016

      Indeed listen to the BBC, More of Less on radio 4, on new Grammar Schools on Friday. Not much sign of balance there either.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      August 13, 2016

      Anonymous. Yes, agree. BBC coverage of the payments to farmers and science was a disgrace. Going on about how the taxpayer was going to fund this. THEY DO ALREADY WITH THEIR PAYMENTS TO THE EU!!!!!!

  22. Chris S
    August 13, 2016

    A Person that pays only £3 pa to be a member of the Labour Party is not a member that can be relied upon. The fee is small enough for thousands of extremists to sign up in order to swing the party decisively to the extreme left. This, is, if course what has happened.

    Labour has Miliband Minor to thank for its present difficulties. He is not an ignorant man so I’m sure he knew exactly what would happen when he introduced the £3 fee.

    In reality I suspect he is far further too the extreme left than anyone suspected.

    It is hard for the party to see a way out of the mess while Momentum continues to gather both strength and power. Labour seems to ruling itself out of power for a generation, at least.

    Reply Party membership needs to be affordable. Many people signing may not be extremists – how do you know?

    1. Lifelogic
      August 13, 2016

      Well you can vote in general elections for nothing can the voters be relied upon? In fast they are right more often then they are wrong and certainly more right than Government. This even though the public have such a dire & limited choice of parties and once elected they never do what they promised anyway.

  23. oldtimer
    August 13, 2016

    Alinsky is all in favour of penetrating institutions in order to change them. This is achieved by installing like minded people into positions of power and influence. He takes the long view. It is what is happening in the Labour party today. It is not confined to political parties. Other institutions are vulnerable too. For example, I believe that the RSPCA was penetrated by the animal rights movement which succeeded in shifting its approach.

    So far as political parties are concerned, it seems to me that they should be clear about the principles they stand for (free markets or nationalism or whatever) and would be foolish to admit to membership people who want to overturrn their principal objectives.

  24. John Downes
    August 13, 2016

    The Conservatives have been infiltrated just as significantly as Labour. How else can you explain the presence within it of people like Heseltine and Cameron, neither of whom ever had a recognisably Conservative thought in their entire life?

  25. Antisthenes
    August 13, 2016

    Socialism has always attracted power struggles often violently. Labour, as has so may similar political groupings, has been here before with Michael Foot and the militant tendency. The left with it’s promise of equality, justice and inclusion for all without responsibility or effort will draw malcontents, trouble makers, the indolent, low achievers and the envious to it’s ranks. There will be those who joined because they have genuine grievances but they are best served by those who have left of centre beliefs not the further left rabble rouses.

    Those who rise to dominate(these days the progressives) that motley group and create a privileged position with some riches and power can never be secure as the have nots will not be content with crumbs and little power of their own. So they scheme and plot and attempt to take over from those who have managed to reach the top. So yet again we have the more militant amongst them making a bid for dominance. In the end they will fail as they always do even if they win this time. That we will know in September. They will fail because other much larger forces with less extreme or opposing views will not tolerate them.

    If they win then the Labour party will be in disarray for some time to come the consequences probably will be it will become a party of little significance and a new one will rise up to replace it. If they lose then eventually Labour will go back to the way it was until the next time the disenfranchised are strong enough to try again.

  26. Hope
    August 13, 2016

    My comments on the 9th August equally apply here. Cameron and the other political leads promised change in 2009 from the corrupt regime and practices at Westminster. All made promises and failed to deliver. Cover ups continue: MPs not investigated properly by the police, it should be external investigation first then internal discipline second, judged by different standards and the rotten culture continues to date. MPs talk about leadership but have no idea what the word actually means and all fail to exercise leadership in putting public interest before self or party interest. On most occasions putting party interest before national interest. The scandal in 2009 demonstrated the majority of MPs were either over paid or fiddled their expenses and still MPs police themseleves! Ever celebrity investigated for historical abuse to the end degree, MPs overlooked or wait until they are not fit or die before any investigation is started. Any other organisation would be disbanded and started again.

    Reply Several MPs were prosecuted for theft or fraud. MPs do not decide their own expenses. IPSA decides what can be claimed, and adjudicates and audits all claims.

    1. Hope
      August 13, 2016

      Wake up. Over 300 overpaid or fiddled and less than a handful prosecuted, a token few. There was large scale false accounting and there should have been a thorough investigation and prosecution of all concerned including those who aided and abetted the offences by turning a blind eye. Some were asked to apologise when they should have been investigated and prosecuted. There is no possible explanation other than a cover up. Some of the excuses of the notorious cases should have been put to a jury.myou can hardly claim IPSA to be independent. It was a widely known culture and practice why did so many MPs keep quite? Were your suspicions ever aroused? Did you ever speak up about your suspicions? Or was it a case of ostrich behaviour where leadership could not be found?

      Reply Most of the cases were MPs who had claimed things allowed within the ukes, provided proof of payments made, and then told after the event the rules had been too generous.

      1. Hope
        August 14, 2016

        It is this sort of response that is central in answering your blog. Blind lack of standards and loyalty to a corrupt system that needs radical overhaul.

  27. Mark B
    August 13, 2016

    Good morning.

    Tough nut to crack this. But this is the price of democracy and an open free society. People are entitled to have views and change those views when necessary. What they are not entitled to do is prevent others from doing the same.

    The Labour Party has always had a militant wing. It has tried, usually successfully, to rid itself of these malcontents. But this time they seem to have got the leader they want and have stolen the Party from the Blairite faction who are interested more in power than ideals.

    If there was to be a GE in the next few months it will be interesting to see what the Labour policies would look like and, how the electorate will respond to them.

    There are many voters of all parties who just go out and vote for the coloured rosette irrespective of who is wearing it and, what the parties position on a range of policies. An intelligent and well informed demos could prevent a bad thing from happening. eg RedEd.

    The Conservative Party itself is not stranger to entryism. Although its version has come in the form of amalgamation with other parties, such as the National Liberal Party, of which Lord Heseltine hails. It can be argued that they too have caused trouble and the change in the parties views and represent a ‘ginger group’ that has been not only allowed to alter a political party but, and an entire nation.

    To answer our kind host question, I think it is important to have a strong party constitution and core values. It is those core values that people must be quizzed on and work to uphold and promote.

    What are the core values of ALL the political parties in the UK. I would have thought a core value of the Conservative and Unionist Party was to conserve the British way of life, our democracy, rule, and type, of law. Not to throw it away like they have done.

    Labour’s core belief were to help those in the poorest and most under represented parts of the country to have a better voice and more opportunity to advance themselves. Not to oppress them.

  28. Kenneth
    August 13, 2016

    I would suggest that you ditch socialist policies and unsound financial management and return to Conservative policies.

    We also need a fair media but that’s a wider story

  29. forthurst
    August 13, 2016

    Suggesting that UKIP members would have been welcomed into the Conservative Party provided they were only focused on getting out of the EU, demonstrates just how far detached from mainstream opinion the Tory Party is. In the first place, apart from a short interregnum when Thatcher had seen the light and before she was dumped, the Tory Party has been, from the days of Macmillan onward, a Europhiliac Party, but more importantly, for the majority of people, the unwillingness to recognise that mass immigration has had devastating consequences for social cohesion and that people who understand this are normal and healthy, demonstrates that the Tory Party, indeed all main political parties, have been the unwitting hosts to entryism by people and ideas and their backers which do not have the interests of the English people at heart, so much so that Matthew Elliot whose inept Vote Leave campaign nearly lost us the Referendum, claimed that of the ‘three battles he fought’ during the campaign, one was against UKIP, despite eighty percent of the population believing that immigration was too high.

    Since the Referendum, the Tory Party has stolen two vital UKIP policies, controlled immigration based on objective assessment and a return of selective public education. Should they steal the UKIP policy of electoral fairness through proportionality, they could consider themselves doing rather well.

    Reply The Conservative party has always campaigned for controlled immigration – it’s not unique to UKIP – and the UKIP system for EU migration is similar to that already in place for non EU migration. The Conservative party has also been the party since 1979 which has argued to keep what grammars we have left. The idea of PR in elections has been Lib Dem policy for much longer than it has been ULIP policy. It is cross party policy for elections to the Scottish Parliament etc.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      August 13, 2016

      Reply to reply
      Pull the other one, it has bells on it. The Conservative Party has pretended to campaign for these things. The whole point of UKIP is to take the things which the Conservative Party pretends to want, fooling most of the people most of the time, and make them happen. Leaving the EU, controlled immigration, Grammar Schools, balanced budget, giving SME’s and trades a chance against the banks and corporates, reduced taxes. Have the Conservatives in government acted on ANY of these??? They might have pretended to want them, but that is all.

      1. Sir Joe Soap
        August 13, 2016

        That is itself is a form of entryism, or reverse entryism, if you like. Taking a particular right-wing stance in campaigning within a party with a right-wing brand, then acting in a diametrically opposing manner when the chips are down. The case of Cameron and his “Euroscepticism”, Osborne and his “Tax-cutting IHT cutting” position are classics in this regard.

  30. Bert Young
    August 13, 2016

    A lot depends on the effectiveness and integrity of one’s local MP as to whether one becomes or remains a member of a particular political Party . In my case I became disgusted when Cameron intervened in the choice of who should be our candidate ; the local committee had nominated a splendid and well-known individual whom everyone – to my knowledge , wished to support ; instead Cameron insisted on his nomination going forward . At that point I resigned my membership of the Conservative Party and criticised every time the elected individual supported Cameron with his vote in the House . I was later informed that our local organisation lost 30% of its membership .

    I will not rejoin the Conservatives until this MP has gone . Like many others , I voted UKIP regarding them as the only reliable anti EU Political group . Today I wait and see what Theresa does ; if she is stalwart enough to re-unite the Conservatives by policies and actions that show determination and resilience post Brexit , I will support them ; if she wilts and waters down any deal we make , I will not .

    The present disarray in the Labour Party provides a real opportunity to the Conservatives unknown for many years ; if they do not exploit this advantage then they must be “crackers”. Creating a “centrist” way forward is not the way to go ; the electorate are hungry for lower taxes , restoration of independence and dignity , renewed faith in our place in world affairs and control over our borders ; putting ourselves first is not a bad priority .

    1. John Downes
      August 14, 2016

      Why so coy? Who is the faux-Tory MP you complain of?

  31. Colin Hart
    August 13, 2016

    The idea that being a member of the Conservative Party means you can help change party policy is a somewhat fanciful notion.

    Reply Why? One of the reasons to join a party is to influence local and national policy through policy debate, and conversations with main decision takers on Councils and in government. Having a vote in leadership elections can also further this process.

    1. Colin Hart
      August 13, 2016

      That’s the theory….

  32. James Munroe
    August 13, 2016

    I have been a lifelong Conservative voter, and also been a Party member for long periods of time.

    I lapsed my membership under Cameron but would consider rejoining the Party again, if the leadership and direction aligned more closely with my own political views.

    I am reserving judgement on Mrs May until her track record is established.
    Her record at the Home Office does not inspire me with great confidence, by I am trying to keep an ‘open mind’.

    I view UKIP as a mixture of disenchanted ex-Tory voters and disenfranchised Labour voters.

    A minor shift to the Right, by the Conservatives, may attract the ex-Tory voters back from UKIP, in the short term.

    In the medium term, if Mrs May achieves a ‘successful’ exit from the EU, and does more to accommodate those on the Centre-Right, she could achieve 40% of voters’ backing, as some of the UKIP voters return to the Conservatives.

  33. David Lister
    August 13, 2016

    Off-topic. Thank you for posting your references to previous blogs regards process for exiting EU. If I summarise: you are assuming there is a fall back to WTO arrangements similar to the US.

    I would suggest you review Richard North’s critique of WTO membership at:


    which explains why this is not an easy fall back option, and also highlights that the US has 38 trade arrangements with the EU. The US does not trade under isolated WTO arrangements.

    There are many issues with WTO arrangements, not least the requirement for Borders Inspection Points to be upgraded which would take many years to complete.

    Reply There are also pre vote posts, as on Passports for example. As I make clear throughout I do not think we will be thrown back on WTO as the rest of the EU does not like the tariffs we could place on their high volume exports to us, namely cars and agricultural produce.

    1. David Lister
      August 13, 2016

      Hi John,

      I have read back to April 30 on “Negotiating Trade”. In that post you also start on the assumption that “Most countries trade just fine with each other under WTO rules.”. But this just isn’t true and so it weakens substantially your arguments that follow. Maybe you could point out why Richard North’s paper is incorrect in a future blog.

      He represents the Leave Alliance so should not be discounted without some consideration.

      Reply China seems to do well. I have always made clear I expect a Uk deal with the EU that is much better than standard WTO. Time will tell which of us is right.

      1. David Lister
        August 13, 2016


        From the above link:

        “A similar exploration of China’s status with the EU identifies multiple agreements – 65 over term, including 13 bilateral agreements, ranging from trade and economic co-operation to customs co-operation. None of these are of the simple, tariff reduction variety, but collectively they have enabled China to become the EU’s second largest trading partner, with trade valued at over €1 billion a day. So many other countries have their own trade deals with the EU that it is difficult to identify countries which do trade solely under WTO rules – there are so few of them. One cannot even cite North Korea, ranking as an EU trading partner, as this country is not a WTO member. Altogether, the EU has 880 bilateral agreements with its trading partners, and there is no example of a developed nation trading with the EU solely by reference to WTO rules. ”

        China does not trade with the EU under WTO rules. This is my point: you can not transition to WTO and expect trade to continue unabated. There is no substantal working example of this. To assume otherwise is simply incorrect.

        1. Denis Cooper
          August 15, 2016

          It’s a good point that the general WTO rules are almost invariably supplemented by specific side agreements, some of which may deal with detailed practical arrangements which are necessary for the conduct of trade, and some of which diplomats might possibly term Memoranda of Understanding rather than Treaties.

          However the failure of Leave campaigners to mention that extra layer of complexity in their statements directed to electors, most of whom barely understand the basics of the subject, does not mean that they are idiots or that they are seeking to deceive or that their argument falls flat on its face or that it would take so long to agree new detailed arrangements that we must stay in the EEA.

          People have their agendas and there is always a temptation to mould the facts to fit the predetermined agenda.

      2. Ken Moore
        August 13, 2016

        I am troubled by Richard North’s rather dogmatic view that withdrawal from the EU will be extremely difficult and potentially harmfull to trade . JR paints a more rosy picture. RH’s long winded ‘Flexit’ option seem to overcomplicate ..but I havent yet found the time to study his many ‘monographs’!.


        JR – I recognise that you have to offer a simple message for the mainstream reader and paint in broad brushstrokes but I hope you will answer Richard North’s view that you are ‘glossing over’ the finer points of EU law.

        It would seem that much of the UK’s EU payments are tied into schemes we would be duty bound to contribute to irrespective of EU membership….

        What is the truth….

        Reply We are leaving, rejecting future legal obligations from the EU. How is this different from the split of Czechoslovakia or the dissolution of the USSR, both of which happened quickly, and from a much more integrated position.

    August 13, 2016

    Large parties such as the Labour Party, Tory Party, SNP, and charitably the LibDems,if they operate in a democratic manner, can only fear Entryism from one anothers members. Why? Because only those parties would have sufficient numbers to enter a rival party in numbers which could have any effect whatsoever in voting on any issue above that which concerns only the tiniest village branch of a Party.

  35. Timaction
    August 13, 2016

    How about the radical idea of delivering manifesto promises? Bringing credibility and honesty back to the legacy parties. Stop media management that seeks to deceive the electorate. Select people with genuine National interest and integrity based on merit not PC. Kill the dogma of political correctness forever!
    Put the public, especially the British people first every time!

    1. anon
      August 13, 2016

      We need more direct democracy. Right of recall etc?

      This should enable the ‘electorate’ to correct quickly problems as they arise.
      (The EU mess a 40 year case in point. Still not actioned.)

      It would be helpful if manifestos were seen as binding, not just ‘fluff advertising to get a vote .

      Winning parties – seem to pursue policies (some not mentioned) most of the population or members disagree with by using the EU, and the FTP system and party control.

      Parties need legal constraints on them to ensure they stay democratic , transparent and representatives of their electors and also be free of corruption.

      Things to fix – ensure 4 million voters get more than 1 MP when comparing SNP MP’s numbers and support.

      An English assembly for English only issues , similar to others.

      That would help the parties indirectly & prevent minority control.

  36. Bob
    August 13, 2016

    “They might have helped change party policy towards the EU more than we managed anyway.”

    It was the surge of support from the Tories & Labour to UKIP that forced David Cameron to promise the referendum during the 2015 General Election.

    Even now the Tory cabinet is stuffed full of Remainers trying to thwart Brexit through procrastination and fudge.

    We need a strong UKIP now as much as ever if we want to see this through and return our country to self rule.

    Reply Not true. It was the gathering strength of pro referendum Conservatives on the backbenches and the possibility the numbers could rise above half the party that brought about the referendum.

    1. Fairweather
      August 13, 2016

      Agree with Bob
      In the book “Call me Dave” by Ashcroft, Cameron answers a question ” why did you call this referendum? ” He replies ” because I have UKIP and my back benchers on my back”
      Without UKIP it would never have happened.
      Also most of the campaigning was done by UKIP volunteers. We hardly saw any vote leave campaigners out on the streets. The street stalls were set up and manned by UKIP volunteers . It was UKIP that won the referendum. We were out every day campaigning

      Reply I seem to remember doing a lot of campaigning, and in my area the Chairman of the local Conservatives was a very active chairman of Vote Leave. I agree many UKIP members also campaigned. Lets try and be accurate and fair

      1. Timaction
        August 13, 2016

        In my area Mr Rees Mogg would readily agree that most boots on the ground were UKIP volunteers. To his credit he actively supported the cause as well. No other legacy party volunteers were seen.

  37. William Long
    August 13, 2016

    Can a political party exist without members? The obvious answer is no, because without members it would not be a party, but the Conservative party has had a pretty good shot at it in recent years with it’s membership in the very low hundreds of thousands in a country with a population of some 60 million. However even in a world with communication media and methods changing radically, a membership spread throughout the UK is desirable to provide local infrastructure for fund raising and electoral purposes.
    To attract members the party must have an ethos and philosophy that reflects the aspirations and beliefs of its membership, and respects them. When this ceases to be the case the membership will lose interest and look elsewhere as we have seen. There was no need for the migration of Conservatives to UKIP if the Conservative Party had remained true to what it’s natural supporters expected of it. The Conservative Party may well have merited being called the ‘Nasty’ party, but that was only because it’s leaders lost faith in the need for a free and democratic society and were therefor incapable of promoting their merits. As soon as Mr Osbourne promised to match labour’s spending plans it was obvious there was no point in support his party.
    We can only hope the new leadership is different but the jury is still out.

    August 13, 2016

    Given the Labour Party is said to have a national membership of anything from 300,000 to 500,000 depending on who their National Executive Committee members decide they personally are going to vote for, what would you think is the number of members who attend local branch meetings?

    For instance, take a Ward containing 8,000+ homes; three Labour Councillors; a Ward Labour Party meeting would need a Chairperson, a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Delegate to the District Party, a Delegate to the Constituency Party, Several Representatives to local school committees; perhaps even a branch committee composed of a working group from the branch meeting to deal with day-to-day matters and maybe assist the Branch Secretary in formulating his formal agenda for the monthly meeting of the Ward Branch meeting.
    FOUR people turn up to a local Ward Labour Party Meetings sometimes less. Sometimes there is a Branch rule about meetings needing to be “Quorate” leading to the cancellation of the meeting. This is the “democracy” of the Labour Party’s half million…500,000 membership.
    People do not attend because they are put off by a clique of people at branch level who talk in acronyms and procedures about which normal people cannot know. Boring. Unhelpful. Deliberate.
    “Entryism” is a danger to the 172 Labour Party careerists in Parliament fighting Mr Corbyn. One of two of the Entryists may just manage, if properly trained externally, to battle through the Labour Party dictators and careerists at branch level. Very hard though. Most will give up and leave the FOUR to rule the roost and hand out raffle tickets one to the other “for branch funds” and at the end of the meeting draw the ticket and one attendee gets a prize of a bottle of cheap plonk paid for ( 75% )by the other three.
    The Labour Party is a sick sick sick Party. May the Entryists win and save democracy

  39. Anthony Makara
    August 13, 2016

    To understand the reason for Mr Corbyn’s unrelenting ‘Bad Press’ since he became Labour leader we need to look not only at entryism but also his attitude towards Defense, Israel, Media and the Monarchy to see that Mr Corbyn has managed to rile the most powerful of vested interests. In effect, creating a perfect storm around himself. This combined with the naked ambition of those who forged careers in the New Labour era and Mr Corbyn has found himself encircled by some of the most powerful hostile forces going. Entryism does exist and for the time being may well have usurped the New Labour project but even those engaged in entryism must understand that protest and politics are different approaches to problems. Those who protest can do so without compromise until they are blue in the face, those who do politics learn very quickly that to achieve anything they have to settle for what they can get rather than what they actually want. In creating so many enemies Mr Corbyn created his own Battle of the Light Brigade, and at best can only hope for a Pyrrhic Victory of sorts. It was a naive approach and showed a severe lack of understanding on Mr Corbyn’s part.

    August 13, 2016

    The Deputy leader of the Labour Party has drawn attention to “Trotskyist Entryists”
    One wonders just how many people in the UK, usually young, are capable of reading and desire to read the translated works of Leon Trotsky which can be heavy in style, I know.How many are capable of growing the characteristic goatee beard; need the must-have stereotypical wire-rimmed spectacles; and a desire of suddenly departing on a secret holiday to Mexico only to be murdered by a Stalinist agent ( not many of them about nowadays ) using an ice axe to crack a nut in a climate where the average temperature is 25C ?
    Simply the renegade dissident careerist 172 PLP MPs are afraid of democracy and it is surprising apart from some but not all of the ladies of the PLP that they themselves do not sport goatee beards and wire-rimmed spectacles, have a mean Mexican suntan and are on the constant watch-out for the inevitable axe to fall on their careers pretty soon.

    1. Mitchel
      August 15, 2016

      The Trotsky tracts that I have read I have found very readable;his main (literary!) offence I would say is his supreme self-regard.

  41. ian
    August 13, 2016

    The labour party started as a one person one vote party until the unions came along, the labour party let the unions join the party because they did not have the muscle to win elections but with union now telling it members to vote labour they started to win election but they paid a high price with block voting by unions which lead to choosing the party leader and some MPs and came to be seen as undemocratic with block voting by unions, party members fighting amongst themselves with the unions about who was going to be leader and MP for there area which would take place now behind close doors with membership having to accept the decision made behind close doors.

    Now the labour party is going back to it grass roots of one person one vote and any one can join, the elite, establishment and media are doing all they can to stop it, why because it will become a democratic party by which i mean the membership pick the leader and the membership pick there own MP to go to parliament in each area, the behind close doors has gone and the members are in full control of the party apart from the NEC which is being changed slowly as the membership vote new people onto the NEC, the leadership election is just a sideshow because the membership can pick their own MP to send to parliament who is not under the leaders control but under the membership control, so if they have a for in the EU MP they can change that person to a out of the EU person with the NEC and the leader having no say in the matter.

    On the other hand you have the con party, with the membership having no say on who is going to be leader unless they say so, no choice who is going to be your MP in parliament and with 280 PMs in the con party for staying in EU and you cannot change them and even if the leader orders all PMs to vote out of the EU you are still left with MPs who do not hold your views and that the membership have not voted for, voting in the con party takes place behind closed doors with the membership having no say at all.

    The other parties are the same as the con party, you only get a vote when we say you can have a vote and you obey the party decisions at all times even if you do not like the decisions we make, you are just there to run round after us and get us votes in so we can do as we please once in office with the public and the membership having no say apart from a manifesto which can change with wind or have a totally different meaning to what you thought it was but you have no way to change it after you have voted.

    Reply Parliamentary candidates are chosen by local selection committees/meetings of all local members in the Conservative party and the Leader is usually elected by the membership. In the most recent case the membership accepted the need to get on with it and accepted the judgement of their MPs.

  42. Brian Tomkinson
    August 13, 2016

    JR: “I would have had no problem welcoming mainstream UKIP supporters who simply wanted the UK to leave the EU into the Conservative party, as that view was a popular view within the existing Conservative party.”
    Unfortunately the view of wanting to leave the EU was not the majority view of those in the Conservative government nor amongst its MPs. This is where the problem lies. Political parties don’t represent the views of their members let alone the wider electorate. I’m sick of hearing politicians saying that they are listening to the voters when clearly they don’t like what the electorate tells them and generally ignore them. The other lament is that the party didn’t get its message across to those voters when in fact they did and the voters rejected it. Politicians can’t abide the thought that they don’t know best.

    1. CdBrux
      August 13, 2016

      It may be that the majority of the 172 MPs, elected by the electorate and not a very small subset of it, have a better idea of what policies an leadership they need to get elected next time than the Corbynistas.

      Lesson also to the Conservative party, you need to listen to the electorate and the party members, not just the party members. As a side effect it may help more of the electorate to consider becoming party members

    2. Chris
      August 13, 2016

      Wise and true words, BT.

    August 13, 2016

    There are so many people who have “been through the mill” as it were, with prior and present Labour Party membership and, friends or relations who had membership, that for the Labour Party MPs in Parliament to attempt standing on a soapbox albeit in front of a TV camera and bleat on with obviously feigned honourability and self-righteousness about their duty to their electorate that you would think one at least of their parents or perhaps a caring sibling would take them to one side and tell them to shut the smut up and go while the going’s good. “Leave Parliament. “”You’ve been rumbled” “Time is not on your side” “The Referendum outcome should tell you your belief-system is fractured beyond repair.”
    Family isn’t what it used to be unfortunately. More progress of a sort. We are becoming free.

  44. Bob Irving
    August 13, 2016

    Perhaps there are different ways of exploring relationship with a political party; there could be membership which is exclusive and association which is not but expresses some affirmation of certain policies or policies under consideration. I am not sure I would be a member of the conservative party but I would certainly express support making the most of Brexit, for example. At present, my only choice is all or nothing; yet no political party necessarily represents my views. On the Brexit issue, I am still not sure where we are headed; having heard nothing from the Brexit department and hoping that the Remain dominated party does not water down the consequences of the Brexit vote.

    Is it worth having different types of membership?

  45. acorn
    August 13, 2016

    Try this for size. First past the post voting degenerates to a binary contest, the US and the UK are classic cases. Binary political parties emerge dominant on the left or right; authoritarian or libertarian etc. Accepted that odd parties, flare up now and again; UKIP; LibDems etc, to scratch a particular itch that the binary system isn’t getting at.

    Don’t bother telling me anyone can stand for parliament, just look at their history of independents in the UK system.

    The next binary split becomes far left or centre left; far right or centre right. Now we have four options; but, voters can only scratch two of those four itches. The institutionalised binary parties, don’t allow you to do otherwise.

    You will be told which candidate you will be allowed to vote for. You may have wanted to vote for a Brexit Tory and were only offered a Remain Tory, but you will still vote Tory. Exactly the same on the Labour side of the binary. You wanted a non-Marxist and got a Marxist, but you will still vote labour.

    A Primary election system could allow you to scratch all four itches and seriously affect binary party thinking. Imagine two Tory leaning candidates are in the Primary, one wants to privatise the NHS the other doesn’t. Two labour leaning candidates; one wants to re-nationalise the railways the other doesn’t. (Candidates are not necessarily members of the party they are leaning towards at this Primary stage.)

    Say you sent the top two FPTP vote getters in the Primary (could be four), to a binary contest for your constituency at the GE. You could send two candidates to the GE who did not want to build Hinkley C Power Plant, from different parties!

    To make this system work well, an MP should never be more than two years from his next election, but that’s another story. 😉

  46. ian
    August 13, 2016

    I do not see how a party can represent democracy for it country and people when it has no democracy inside the party itself, just a rule book with the members having no say.

    All of this is about control and dominion, the erosion of people personal freedoms and the move towards totalitarian suppression of all liberties and complete monitoring over any and all activities of the average citizen.

    They do it in such away you never get to vote on it, whether you are inside a party or out side of a party, it just carry on with media support and it make no difference which party you voted for because the agenda is always the same, like we in parliament are all for staying in the EU and their manifesto are all the same with media saying that you could not put a rolling paper between them on policy.

  47. ian
    August 13, 2016

    I always fought there was a left and right in a party so every citizen could join that party and have their views and say.

  48. John
    August 13, 2016

    Hi John,
    40 years ago I broke the law and rightly got a criminal record. Does that fact now bar me from joining the Conservative party?

    Reply Not necessarily.

  49. libertarian
    August 13, 2016

    Personally I think ALL political parties have had their day. The world just doesn’t work like that anymore.

    There are too many contrasting views and opinions to encapsulate into one party that could gain a voter majority purely on the merits of their manifesto.

    I’m not surprised though that the last people on the planet to innovate or be entrepreneurial in their approach are the people who are involved in politics. As a businessman I can see a gaping gap in the market for a modern centrist party and I could tell you how to make it appealing.

    What do we actually get? UKIP a throw back party who change their core philosophy more often than I change my socks , luckily UKIP are dead in the water as are LibDems and now its looking like Labour are dying too. If only we had someone of vision to set up a 21st century political group

    Before a kipper tells me about the 4 million votes…. those votes were mostly Tory and a few Labour telling the 2 mainstream parties that the country had enough of the EU. A protest vote that now it has achieved its end will never get anything like approaching that vote again

  50. ian
    August 13, 2016

    You know john democracy is a funny thing, once it get out, it spread and people go to where it is, do you not think, the new young people love it, picking there own PM for parliament and who going to be there own PM in the area in parliament and policies, having a say as well, they like democracy and want to keep there democracy with or without the labour party,

    What can the con party do to stop democracy.

  51. Peter Parsons
    August 14, 2016

    The reality is that all the larger political parties in this country are coalitions of multiple smaller parties who stay together out of the necessity to do so under a FPTP system entirely out of step with the current balance politicial preferences in the UK electorate. When the current system was devised (just after WW2), around 80% of registered voters voted either Conservative or Labour. That share has now droppped to a little over 40% of voters, but the system doesn’t reflect such a fundamental shift in the wishes of voters. If we want real democracy, we need fundamental reform such that the UK parliament more accurately and proportionately reflects the preferences of the UK electorate and we don’t have a system where the only votes that really matter are those of the swing voters in the marginal constituencies, with the rest of us either ignored or taken for granted, and where it is no longer acceptable for governments to command majorities with the backing of less than a quarter of the UK electorate,

  52. lojolondon
    August 14, 2016

    I joined the Conservatives when David Cameron promised us a referendum the first time – (about 2008?). I left when it became clear that he lied and that he had planned all along to go back on his ‘cast-iron’ guarantee. I joined UKIP because I agree with most of what they say and think, and I believe they generally reflect a ‘conservative’ mindset. I would rejoin the Conservative Party if TM walks the walk. First tests are that Britain leaves the EU with no concession to freedom of movement or EU payments, and generally fulfils her promises.

  53. Jacqueline Heath
    August 14, 2016

    I have read “Thought Prison: The Fundamental Nature of Political Correctness” by Bruce Charlton and it is very enlightening. As someone who has read Philosophy, John, I’m sure you are aware of the status of Political Correctness as an irrational ideology. While I do not accept all of Bruce Charlton’s conclusions I do think that he makes some very salient points about how Political Correctness is fuelled. If the Conservatives are to have more votes they will need to dismantle many of PC’s tenets because PC is fundamentally an ideology of the left.
    A good place to start is with reality. Consider an emphasis on the outcomes of various policies. This is because PC is not concerned with outcomes as long as an action is thought to have been undertaken for ‘the right reasons’; hence the ‘rightness’ of mass immigration and the ignoring or belittling of those who protest at the outcomes of such a policy. If the outcomes of policies were discussed, researched and were given the serious weight they deserve because of their impact upon people’s lives then it might become more in vogue to consider them. It would also attract the majority (52%) of the population who are realists as opposed to idealists.
    It would also be a good thing if the current structure of our media is reformed. PC is perpetuated by the mass media and our intellectual elite and between them they are silencing the majority of our population. This is profoundly anti-democratic and ought to be reformed along lines of more equal representation of views – especially as we are obliged to pay for a huge chunk of it with no get-out for those of us who dislike its distorted influence. Our media has influence without accountability and this ought to be resisted.
    In the meantime, until the media is reformed into something more balanced, it would be good for our politicians to censure the more outrageous breaches of fairness publically. For example, to use a PC idea, during the protests after Brexit the BBC showed protestors holding posters that said various nasty things about ‘old people’ including that they should hurry up and die. Why is that not ‘hate speech’? Why haven’t the perpetrators been investigated? They would have been if their posters had said anything similar about groups currently favoured by those who advocate Political Correctness.

  54. Lindsay McDougall
    August 15, 2016

    Joining two political parties is less of a nonsense than dual citizenship, so why not simply allow it?

    Reply I expect some people do do it. It becomes an issue probably leading to expulsion where the individual starts campaigning for two different parties at the same time, when it becomes apparent and potentially embarrassing for the parties.

  55. ian
    August 15, 2016

    So what you are telling me is local con party members who want out of the EU, selected pro-EU candidates just like labour did and that they like them so much they will not change them for out MPs, you are good laugh john.

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