It has been an interesting week. My posts about Labour’s MEP selections, and the panel member in the East Midlands, Nicki Brooks, who seems to have selected herself, have prompted all sorts of debate, comments, and e-mails sent to me. My blog even already ranks 6th in Google UK if you search for ‘Nicki Brooks‘, and people like Mark Pack, Patrick Wintour and Charlie Beckett have mentioned my digging on other blogs or on Twitter. Hence at one level it has been a super week for this blog.
But then what?
I still do not know exactly what happened in East Midlands. I have made a clear case – that Nicki Brooks selected herself – and I know there are plenty of people in the Labour Party who know about this claim. But I have been unable so far to get any sort of response, any sort of statement, about what actually happened, and since my blog entry was written, East Midlands Labour has even formally announced its candidates on its website.
In short, I seem to be able to shine the light on the malevolence of a politician, and make sure that thousands of people know about it (the Brooks and MEP selection blogs have received more than 3000 individual visitors combined, and that does not count the Twitter exposure), but I cannot actually find a way within the Labour Party to force some change in this case. It was suggested in the comments of my Progress piece on this issue that I should push for a rule change in the party. OK, but that does not deal with the fact that the rules this time, even as the rules are, do not seem to have been respected.
As the commenter ‘East Mids Observer’ remarks, that East Midlands has a questionable selection process is not anything new, only this time five years on more people know about the malevolence than did previously. The online networkers can hence seem to shine the light on the malevolence of individuals, but we cannot actually yet use online networking to foster new, fairer, more transparent relationships between party members and the senior people in the Labour Party.
The problem is essentially is that this whole episode further confirms the prevailing impression that politicians in traditional parties is a grubby business. In the meantime Nigel Farage tours the country, filling halls and styling himself as the honest man of British politics. Labour might manage for things to not blow up this time, might manage to ensure the whole thing blows over. But unless the mainstream parties manage to find ways to inspire their own people, motivate their own members, and respect their own rules, then the seepage of legitimacy to the populists will only continue. And we will all be worse off as that continues to happen.