Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Totnes open primary returns a positive result

Totnes' open primary deserves a mention, given the democracy versus diversity conundrum which some commentators suggested such a contest would produce. In an article on the Guardian politics website Andrew Sparrow quoted research implying that women would not flourish when this type of selection was used.

One swallow (or perhaps that should be sparrow) does not a summer make, but the Conservatives first employment of an open postal ballot contradicts the thesis. Sarah Wollaston, a local doctor, won 7,914 votes, beating Sara Randall Johnson into second position. 25% of qualified voters participated.

Iain Dale points out that the costs of the system are prohibitive (the Tories sent out postal ballots to each eligible voter), but there is room to retain the participative element whilst limiting expenditure. This experiment appears to have got off to a successful start.

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