, 8 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
When I wrote this in June, many suggested that it didn't matter if party members could install a Prime Minister, as he could only *govern* through Parliament. Now Parliament is to be suspended, we can see the scale of the constitutional damage. [THREAD] newstatesman.com/politics/uk/20…
2. Parliamentary democracy has been under fire for years, from tabloids decrying MPs as "saboteurs" - defying "the will of the people" - to populist attacks on "the Westminster elite". But a key part of this crisis is the rise of "party democracy" as an alternative to Parliament.
3. For years, all parties have been transferring powers from our elected representatives to their own fee-paying activists. They argued - sincerely - that this was "more democratic"; but in so doing, they made parties, not parliamentarians, the vessels of democratic legitimacy.
4. The logic went something like this: most voters choose a party, not an individual MP, so democratic legitimacy lies with the party as a whole. Parliamentarians draw their legitimacy from the party, and should implement whatever their party decides.
5. But that raises some troubling questions. Why have 650 different MPs at all? Why not simply vest their voting power in the party leadership, chosen by its internal democratic mechanisms? Can MPs ever justify rebellion against a leader who commands the confidence of members?
6. A key moment came in 2016, when Labour MPs rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn. John McDonnell told a rally: “we will not allow the democracy of our movement to be subverted by a handful of MPs”. In the media, MPs were routinely described as "plotters" in an anti-democratic "coup".
7. Today, that logic reached its natural endpoint. A prime minister serving two different masters - whose mandate from the party membership collided with the arithmetic of the House of Commons - has simply dispensed with Parlt. And our constitution lacks safeguards against this.
8. The road to party democracy was paved with good intentions, but we know where such roads can lead. Party activists are overwhelmingly public-spirited & well-intentioned; but they've been handed functions that belong to our elected MPs. It's time to take back control. [ENDS]
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