Alex Massie

There’s No British Tea Party: Here’s Why

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More on Christine O'Donnell's stunning victory in the Delaware GOP Senate primary in due course but it's worth pointing out that such a triumph almost certainly could not happen in Britain. Not even in our new primary-friendly Tory party.

Because most of the contests called primaries in Britain are really forms of caucus, not proper primaries and even the so-called "open primaries" that have been held by postal ballot are actually only semi-open. In each case voters are offered a choice of candidates who have been approved by Tory HQ. It is not, in other words a truly open process and consequently it's exceedingly difficult for a grass-roots rebellion to take place.

This is one reason why there is no British Tea Party. The establishment party controls who is put on the ballot even in the so-called open primaries and, generally speaking, the party isn't going to risk putting forward for selection the British equivalents of O'Donnell or Rand Paul. Genuinely open primaries could change that and that's why no party, I think, has any desire to emulate the openess of the American system. Sometimes, you see, the "wrong" people win. 

For all David Cameron's talk of a new, more open kind of party politics the truth is, that for understandable reasons (from the leadership's perspective that is), it's only a degree more open than previous methods of selecting candidates.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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