Having been in power for almost a decade, Alan O'Kelly our Head of Events argues why the Conservative Party must embrace the battle of ideas and personalities, in any future leadership election.
By: Alan O'Kelly
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With Joe Biden formally throwing his hat into the ring for the Democractic Party nomination for President, there are now about 20 people who have put their names forward.
Clearly this presents all sorts of political, policy and even logistical challenges ( how do you get 20 people on one debate stage!). There has been some concern that the proliferation of candidates will weaken the party, creating a damaging inter-party contest that leaves a bloodied candidate facing a formidable incumbent.
There is always the concern that such an approach will create division and enemies but in fact the experience from America demonstrates that the opposite tends to be true.
Giving voters the opportunity to properly engage with candidates and their ideas. Furthermore, activists, and voters a chance to asses the campaigning ability of any potential leader and their ability to endure a range of often difficult.
More importantly it allows activists within the party to have their voice heard, to help shape the future of the party creating a sense of ownership and involvement in the party.
The parallels for the conservative party are obvious, everyday it appears another candidate, informally, put themselves forward for the leadership. In absence of a formal primary process, instead we are seeing an informal primary system consisting of policy speeches, press interviews and general maneuvering.
There seems to be some hand-ringing about this in certain quarters, but in fact we should welcome it. The party desperately needs a debate about its future. The last 3 years have become about one issue only. While there are some notable areas of exception,by and large the party doesn't have a fully developed domestic policy agenda- there is precious little to talk to voters about beyond Brexit.
We missed an opportunity to have a proper debate about the future direction of the party with the truncated leadership campaign in 2016. Instead the party should welcome a battle of ideas and personalities. After nearly a decade in power, the only way we will win going forward is a proper debate about renewal and the future, the leadership battle offers us the chance to achieve this.
The words in our opinion pieces are those of the author.