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The Democratic Dictator

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Jonathan Russell, Partner at UK200Group member firm ReesRussell looks at the recent changes within the Labour Party.

Here in the UK we live, to all intents and purposes, in a democratically run and controlled country. Many countries around the world admire and have even modelled their own system on the UK’s. But the recent Labour Party leadership election made me wonder.

I have always been a great believer in democracy and the committee structure, the concept that a chairman’s casting vote should always be exercised for status quo rather than the chairman’s personal view and that the leader of any organisation is elected to deliver the aims and desires of the group they represent.

Even in the business world we have seen a move away from the term Managing Director in favour of Chief Executive Officer, reflecting that the board of directors is merely there to deliver the desires and wishes of the shareholders.

However, the recent Labour Party election brought home to me that is not how it works in politics. We have a political party – in this case the Labour Party – who I always believed had certain ideals, objectives and values, and the members of that party were the people who set out those ideals, aims and values.

I had presumed therefore that it was for the active members of the party and ultimately the MPs and party leader to strive tirelessly to deliver that for their party. But no! When it came to electing a new party leader it was for each of those leaders to set out their personal set of beliefs, ideals and values and how they hoped to deliver them. It was then for the members of the party to decide who they wished to follow – maybe that is why we still have the term party leader.

It was therefore interesting, that it is possible to have a coup, which has left many wondering what is or has happened to the Labour Party.

An MP, in this case Jeremy Corbyn, managed to be proposed as a leader. When his agenda was published and promoted it led to a surge in new Labour members, which ultimately led to him being elected. With the influx of new members we have ended up with a sudden shift in stance by the Labour Party. We could have considered the move to ‘New Labour’ was a similar move but that was more gradual so crept upon us.

What is the Labour Party’s future now? It has been subject to a coup leaving many now, I suspect, querying their position as members of the Party. Whilst the coming months may reveal the answer to that question, the process of the election brought home to me the question of why I personally am opposed to Party Politics. I have always voted for the person and not the party, if it appears that actually the Party is the person, a dictator bearing a Party badge.


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