Monday, December 18, 2023

VICTORY (maybe!) for the Kelly Campaign to have the whole Alba NEC elected by the whole membership

On a much more positive note than my previous post, the email sent out to Alba members tonight states the following: "It is also the case that the Party this year as part of the constitutional review will have the option, if it so wishes, of moving to OMOV for the National Executive elections."

That, of course, was the proposal that was the centrepiece of my campaign to be elected as Membership Support Convener, and although I very narrowly failed to be elected (having led on first preference votes), I think it's entirely possible that running with it so strongly may have led to this breakthrough, because once it was on the agenda other NEC candidates started expressing a view on it.  If so, it may yet be that I can look back on the frustrations of the last few weeks with a degree of pride.  As the saying goes, politics is - or should be - a battle of ideas rather than of personalities, so victory for the idea is more important than victory for the candidate.  I didn't really have a specific legacy as a member of the NEC between 2021 and 2022, so it's a rather satisfying irony if I'll have one this time without actually having been elected.

The principle is simple: a party only has an internal democracy if its governing body is directly elected by the whole membership.

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I am currently fundraising in the hope of running a new Scot Goes Pop opinion poll in the New Year - details can be found HERE, and the fundraiser page itself is HERE.

The fallout from the Alba internal elections

Just a final thought about the Alba internal elections a few weeks ago.  This is difficult to write, because to a large extent I don't actually know what's been going on, it's like looking a jigsaw puzzle with a lot of the pieces missing.  I've asked questions where I could, but answers haven't always been forthcoming.  However, it's clearly not a healthy situation when people who were standing for election have actually left the party in the short period since.  It's not healthy that people who were successfully elected felt unable to take up their positions, in at least two cases on matters of principle. It's not healthy that others who were initially standing for election withdrew after the vote was nullified and restarted.  It's not healthy that we don't know whether those who made the decision to nullify the vote were aware of the original outcome before making their decision. It's not healthy that results have been kept secret, which frankly should be considered obviously unacceptable in any electoral process anywhere in the world.

One thing I do know is that I attracted some very unexpected supporters in the re-run version of the Membership Support Convener election - I can't and won't name them publicly because the support came in private messages, but I got the distinct impression that they were people who felt very, very badly let down and that I was considered the best bet for them to register that dissatisfaction.  I very nearly won the election, and I would guess that's a non-trivial part of the explanation why, because in the general NEC ballot I was quite a way short of being elected (although with eighteen candidates on the ballot, there's no shame in that).

On the secrecy issue, I was confidentially sent the results of the Membership Support Convener election before the official announcement.  It didn't contain raw vote numbers but it did contain percentages.  Before posting the percentages on this blog, I waited to check that there was an announcement of the winners on social media so that I didn't jump the gun (as I accidentally did once in the past), but it occurred to me later that I wasn't actually sure whether the percentages had been revealed in the official announcement at Natonal Council - it would be interesting to find that out from anyone who was there.  As we now know, the results of the NEC ballot ended up being completely withheld, apart from the names of those successfully elected.  Even candidates were not told the result unless they requested it by email, and even if they did, they were only given a partial result that excluded everything that happened after they were eliminated.  (This means I know who finished behind me but not who finished ahead of me.)

There were suggestions that the secrecy might be explained by a desire to spare the blushes of those who polled poorly, but I actually get the impression that's not the case, and that the source of embarrassment might be the very large number of votes received by someone who did far, far better than would have been expected, with the concern being that people would start pondering what the real explanation for that was.

All of this is really bizarre in a small party that is now going places due to two recent high-profile defections and the alliance with Angus MacNeil.  The excitement of that ought to be enough to pull everyone together in a common endeavour, but instead the in-fighting (and despair in some quarters) seems to be worsening.  I'm not sure whether I should be heartened by the really good result I had in the office bearer elections or disheartened by my disappointing result in the NEC ballot, but either way my intention is to keep standing in these internal elections and to do so with the aim of increasing democracy and transparency, and to dispense with destructive factionalism.

UPDATE: Just by coincidence, not long after this blogpost was published, an email went out to Alba members offering an explanation for the issues that beset the internal elections.  It's stated that the office bearer elections had to be re-run because of rumours of problems with the voting process.  However, my recollection is that at the time it was made clear that those rumours would not have been enough to scupper the vote and that the reason for the re-run was the targetting of individuals on secret groups.

The reasons given for the secrecy over the NEC ballot are that a) candidates polling very low numbers of first preference votes would have been vulnerable to attack from Alba's political opponents if they subsequently stood for parliament, and b) the candidates hadn't given their consent for their election data to be shared.  The latter reason seems odd - I've stood in the NEC elections for the last three years in a row, and there was never previously any problen with sharing election data.  I would have thought standing as a candidate ought to constitute tacit acceptance that the result can be published.  I mean, in what sense does a candidate "own" the votes they receive?  They're not copyrighted, surely?  As for the first reason, the priority of democratic transparency ought to very easily trump any inconvenience that may be caused.  Also, I'd just note that STV is not the reason for candidates receiving very few first preference votes - the same thing would have happened under first-past-the-post.  The real reason may be that one of the eighteen candidates in the male ballot somehow managed to take roughly half the votes, if the information I've been given is correct.

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I am currently fundraising in the hope of running a new Scot Goes Pop opinion poll in the New Year - details can be found HERE, and the fundraiser page itself is HERE.