Momentum deselection bid: 3 ways open selection can boost democracy

A woman sits on a Momentum stand on day two of the Labour Party Conference on September 25, 2017 in Brighton, England.

Momentum is calling for a process to deselect sitting MPs.

Momentum has launched a bid to put a process in place to deselect sitting Labour MPs. Inspired by the Conservative Party's current leadership race, Momentum wants Labour to break the mould and start promoting youth and diversity in politics.

With 'Open Selection', all Labour MPs would be automatically challenged and Labour members within that constituency can vote on whether to keep their current representative or vote in a new one.

In a statement released on its official Twitter page, Momentum said: "For too long an outdated rulebook and a culture of deference have meant an absence of democracy and accountability across the party.

"Now, with changes won by Momentum supporters at last year’s conference, Labour members have the opportunity to campaign for fair and open selections across the country and open the door to a new generation of MPs."

Here are three ways that this deselection process within the Labour Party can help promote democracy in the UK.

Accountability for MPs

MP Kate Hoey of the Labour party speaks at the Brexit: Let's go WTO rally by the Leave Means Leave Brexit Campaign in Central Hall on January 17, 2019 in London, England. After defeating a...

During general elections, the British public can hold a party to account if it disagrees with its performance since the last election. Similarly, the voter can hold its local MP to account by voting for another party.

But the deselection process means that MPs are more directly accountable to their local constituency members. If you are unhappy with the MP in your local area, open selection gives you the chance to voice your opinion on their suitability.

For example, pro-Remain Labour voters might feel alienated in Leyton & Wanstead (59 per cent Remain area in Waltham Forest) or Vauxhall (nearly 80 per cent voted Remain in Lambeth). The Labour MPs in those areas (John Cryer for Leyton & Wanstead and Kate Hoey for Vauxhall) both voted Leave and many Labour voters feel they are not represented by their local MP.

Voters now have two ways to hold this MP to account - either by pushing for them to be replaced or by voting for another party at the next general election.

Encourage diversity of representation

Pictures taken on August 15, 2016 show supporters of Jeremy Corbyn holding up placards showing the Momentum logo as they cheer at a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) rally in north...

One of the main reasons Momentum has pushed this deselection drive is to encourage more diversity in politics. Prompted by the elitist Tory leadership contest, Momentum wants the composition of Labour MPs to reflect the British public.

In their statement, Momentum added: "For too long politics has been dominated by posh men from expensive private schools. As two privately educated millionaires battle for the votes of an overwhelmingly white, wealthy Tory membership to become the next prime minister, the rising stars of the Labour party must look and sound very different.

People feel deeply alienated by our broken political system, and campaigning for open selections across the country will help surface a new generation of young, BAME, working class leaders who will take on the political establishment and provide a genuine alternative.

It is important that all sections of society are represented in politics (whether that be ethnicity, religion, sex, sexuality, age or other). Momentum's plan is to block automatic reselection of MPs and the group hopes that younger candidates will challenge through this open selection process.

Limitations on incumbency advantage

A delegate wears a badge with the slogan

Incumbency advantage is the notion that some people vote with who they are familiar with; a sitting MP always has a natural edge over their competitors. If we want a wholesome democracy, with the public maintaining political activity, we should discourage incumbency advantage and promote alternative plans.

This might actually provide a short-term hit for the Labour Party - on a minor scale - if voters are not familiar with a new candidate selected via this process. But it helps the democratic process. Instead of blindly voting, the public is interacting with various political options and picking their preferred candidate.

It would also help Labour Party members decide the future direction of the party. With candidates selected by supporters, rather than those within the party, Labour's future will reflect the general feelings of the party as outdated MPs will be replaced.

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