Primary colours are black and blue

Rising star Labour MP Gareth Thomas recently wrote in the Sainsburys funded Progress magazine that the party should think about introducing US style primary elections to the UK.

Something that may cause him to pause for thought is the beating being dished out to one-time vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. “Jomentum” may be about to be handed his P45 by a Connecticut primary electorate unimpressed by his unwavering support for George Bush’s war on Iraq, and for an energy bill that most left-leaning Americans think is little more than a cash cow for US oil and nuclear energy companies.

Joe Lieberman has not faced a serious primary challenge for his senate seat in 18 years, but Ned Lamont, a cable entrepreneur and multi-millionaire (who has said his wealth is “somewhere between” $90 and $200 million) is giving him the scare of his life this time round. Polls put Lieberman’s lead in single digits, and predict that if there is a low turnout, those people coming out to vote would be predominantly the most active of activists fired up by hatred of Bush – leaving Liberman in serious trouble.

Bloggers (who are serious political players in their own right in the states) and trade unionists are making the running on the ground, with a grassroots and ‘netroots’ campaign that focuses religiously on Iraq and Lieberman’s closeness to the Bush administration.

All this has worried Lieberman so much that he has come straight out with a positive new theme for getting Democrat support – back me or I will stand as an independent. So pissed [off] with his party’s supporters has Lieberman become, that it took him almost an entire day to deny rumours that he might stand in the elections as a Republican if he loses the Primary. All this is being played out in the full glare of the media. TV spots like this, this and this are making the Reading East airing of dirty laundry in public look like a picnic in Yellowstone park.

In his article, Gareth Thomas says, “Primaries offer one opportunity to both rebuild interest and trust in politics”. True. They are also offering grassroots supporters the chance to ‘pay back’ those politicians that got the US into the mess that is Iraq. We can only wonder how many of the other MPs who voted for the war will back Thomas’ proposal?

UPDATE: a new poll puts Lamont literally neck and neck with Lieberman among all Democrat voters. Now that’s what I call Jomentum!


3 Responses to Primary colours are black and blue

  1. Daraka says:

    Great post- though it should be noted that the strong majority of unions are supporting Lieberman.


  2. Matthew says:

    Hey – thanks. I saw that the CT AFL-CIO are backing Joe, but I haven’t seen what the CtW unions have decided. It seems to me – from a long distance viewpoint – that many of the SEIU, UFCW etc locals seem to have people working for Lamont. It will also be interesting to see what the AFL-CIO and CtW unions do if Lamont does win on the 8th.

  3. Daraka says:

    They’ll back him- just as CtW unions will back Lieberman if he wins. It’s important not to make too much of the union split vis a vis politics and endorsements. My union is AFL-CIO, but are almost always on the same side as SEIU, etc when it comes to political fights, even in the primary. In fact, my union, unlike SEIU, backed Marcy Winograd in a primary battle that was in a sense a minor-league version of the Lieberman/Lamont row.

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