Electing and Ejecting Party Leaders in Britain
The Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats parties each allow their members to participate in the selection of the party leader, where previously this task was left to MPs. This book examines the consequences of the shift to all-member ballots through a series of case studies of recent leadership contests. It presents a wealth of evidence to show that, when party members choose leaders, they normally use the same selection criteria that MPs use: acceptability, electability and competence. Democratisation of leadership selection has not led to the election of radical leaders, but has proved compatible with the parties' major goals of internal unity and a broad electoral appeal. The book also assesses the ways in which parties remove leaders who have outstayed their welcome. It shows that, although all the major parties have sought to make it harder to eject leaders, Labour leaders are offered the most protection by their party's eviction rules.
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