Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sock it to 'em, Rob

Among those hopeful of picking up the Labour nomination for the constituency of Darlington is the techie whizz kid from London, Rob Marchant, the "common sense" blogger, who hit the columns of Hear All Sides this week, where he no doubt felt at home.

His blitz on the dwindling ranks of the Labour Party membership (Rob kindly tells us they have 216 members - I bet that admission has endeared him to the local party membership secretary!) in the constituency through the Echo and telephone canvassing no doubt has them reeling, though one member apparently promised to vote for him because he took the trouble to phone him up (don't always believe what they tell you on the "doorstep" Rob!). Rob also thinks they have 28 councillors: has someone resigned recently?

His blog is clearly aimed at the rank and file of the local Labour Party rather than their elected leaders, containing as it does questions about inadequate facilities for young people in the town, traffic congestion and the need for economic stimulation, all things the local Labour leadership have been responsible for, and apparently failing at, on the Council for many years.

Keep it up, Rob. I'm looking forward to next week's postings on Centre Left, containing, as it surely must, searching questions about the Eastern Transport Corridor and Pedestrian Heart overspends and the appalling education record over which Labour presided for so long.

His plea to his questioners on his blog that they stick to "the issues" from now on rather than try to find out more about him as an individual will likely fall on deaf ears. A blog, if nothing else, reflects the personality of the writer and is so much more than a vehicle for discussing the minutiae of policy or "issues". People want to know about YOU, Rob. They will want to know whereabouts on the Mowlam-Milburn axis you fall, not the latest details of Labour policy on economic regeneration.


Rob Marchant said...

Mike, I shan't try and correct ALL the inaccuracies in your rather cheeky post (there just aren't the hours in a day)...but rest assured I shall try to return the favour.

james said...

The thing about membership is pretty typical for our age. I imagine you'd be very pleased to have half as many members of the Lib Dems in Darlington, Mike ;-)

What do we think of the idea of political parties having effectively two forms of membership - supporter status and full membership, the former of which would allow political parties to consult with their supporters on policies?

Rob Marchant said...

Now James, that was harsh - but true. Personally I like the idea of supporter membership, which leans towards primaries, an idea which is getting a lot of press.

By the way James, have you an email address?

Mike Barker said...

If I could just butt in here lads.

We have an e-supporters system within the Lib Dems,

through which people can get email updates from the Party and sign up to help in local campaigns and activities, though without the necessity of joining the party.

When this was launched it was also announced that it would be used to consult a wider audience about the issues of the day and Lib Dem policy initiatives.

james said...

Mike, is that e-supporter thing something that works on a regional or local basis? Given that the Lib-Dems can hold radically different policy opinions depending where in the UK you are, it might not work as a feedback mechanism on a national level... (There I go being cheeky again)

Can't say I like the idea of primaries, much less open primaries. That rather defeats the object of being a member of a political party. It would probably be better to have greater member participation in policy-making, priority-setting, etc. But this is exactly what the our corporate elite do not want from any political party.

My email is I've added you both as contacts on Facebook, by the way - blogging is so old fashioned ;-)

Rob Marchant said...

Mike, we always had an ultimate goal of something similar with the Labour site, but I'm not sure either party has successfully made it anything more than an email list. A shame really, as anything which widens political engagement is good for all of us.