政治押宝? 英国两党因争夺议员席位陷酣战

政党如何挑选准国会议员
For the next two weeks all political eyes will be on Eastleigh, a suburban seat on the outskirts of Southampton abruptly vacated on February 5th by Chris Huhne, a scandal-plagued MP. The by-election deliciously pits the Conservative Party against the Liberal Democrats; opportunities for coalition-straining rows abound. But Eastleigh gives a false impression of British politics. More than two-thirds of seats in the House of Commons are safe. Landing the right party ticket in one is to become an MP-in-waiting. Around the country, the 2015 parliament is quietly taking shape.
在接下来的两周里,所有政治家的目光都将会聚焦在伊斯特雷格(Eastleigh)。2月5日,丑闻缠身的议员克里斯·休恩(Chris Huhne)辞去了议员职位,使得这个南安普敦(Southampton)的这个郊区里出现了一个席位空缺。这个补缺选举使得保守党和自由民主党陷入酣战,也让两党有机会大吵一架。然而伊斯特雷格的问题并不能反映当下英国政坛的力量对比。下议院超过三分之二的席位是安全的。得到一张保守党的“入场券”就相当于成为一名准议员。从全国局势看来,2015年的国会已悄然成形。
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Selecting a candidate used to be an informal business, involving a tap on the shoulder and a friendly word or two. Today voters are more apolitical and cynical than they used to be—and party members a rarer and more ideological breed. Left to their own devices, activists might pick unelectable zealots. So party bosses try to strike a balance between giving members a choice and ensuring that selectees have electoral and parliamentary potential. Each party prioritises a distinct—and revealing—bundle of characteristics.

曾经,挑选一个候选人是一件非正式的事情,只要轻拍一下肩膀说一两句亲切的话以示支持。如今,投票者相较于以前要么对政治更加的漠不关心,要么更加的愤世嫉俗。同时,政党成员变成一群更加稀有也更加意识形态化的物种。若听任这种状况发展下去,积极分子将会选择不可能当选的狂热激进分子。所以,在给予党内成员选择余地与保证入选人员具有选举号召力和成为议员的潜质之间,各党的党魁们都在寻求达成一种平衡。各党派的优先考虑项都不相同,这也正揭示出他们各自的特点。
Would-be Conservative MPs attend a Parliamentary Assessment Board (PAB) where they complete five exercises: public speaking, an interview, an in-tray test (in which candidates must speedily prioritise and complete a series of desk-based tasks), a group exercise and a written exam. The process is designed to uncover brainy, personable Stakhanovites with steely resilience and the gift of the gab. Peter Botting, a consultant who trains prospective candidates, describes one pupil who is used to working long hours but was “shattered” after the six-hour assessment.
准保守党议员都要参加一次国会评估董事会(PAB),在那里他们要完成五项训练:公众演讲,一次面试,一次文筐测试(在此项测试中,候选者必须快速地按优先顺序处理并完成一系列基本办公任务),一次小组练习和一次写作考试。这个程序旨在发现有头脑,风度良好的高效工作者(译者注:Stakhanovites斯达汉诺夫,一俄国人,工作努力且追求高效),要有极好的适应力且口齿伶俐。一位培训准候选者的顾问彼得·鲍汀(Peter Botting)形容道,一个即使习惯长时间工作的培训生,在经历6个小时的评估后,他也会感到筋疲力尽。
Critics say the process disadvantages outsiders who lack relevant political or professional experience. But Jo Silvester, an organisational psychologist who helped the party draw up the tests, counters that it weeds out substandard candidates, including ones with desirable backgrounds. Only once a hopeful has proven his abilities is he free to apply for seats, schmooze local members and bid for their votes at selection hustings.
评论家表示这个程序对缺少相关政治或专业经验的圈外人是不利的。但是,一位曾经帮助政党进行测试的组织心理学家乔·西尔维斯特(Jo Silvester)反击道,这类测试可以淘汰掉不符标准的候选人,其中包括一些拥有令人满意背景的人。一个有前途的人只有一次机会去证明他所拥有的能力,即他可以自由申请席位,和当地的政党成员拉拢关系,并且在竞选活动中得到选票。
The Lib Dems also screen applicants before letting local activists pass judgment. But whereas the Tories are looking for future Commons stars, their coalition partners are interested in campaigning grit. Although the Lib Dem assessment is based on the PAB, it tests for two other skills: “representing people” and “values in action”. These, says a senior party figure, reflect an expectation that candidates should make a “huge personal commitment” to their constituencies. The party has few safe seats, so a strong local following is essential. Mike Thornton, the party’s new candidate inEastleigh, epitomises the type. A veteran of 20 years of leafleting and a councillor of five years’ standing, he admits that running for election “has been an ambition for some time”.
在允许当地的积极分子通过审查之前,自由民主党也要甄选候选人。但当保守党(译者注:托利党是保守党的前身)正在寻找未来的“国会之星”时,他们的合作伙伴却对人民疾苦更加关注。尽管自由民主党的评估是基于国会评估董事会考核的基础上,它同时也针对另外两种技能进行了测试:“代表民意”和“行为价值”。一位自由民主党的高级官员表示,这些技能的测试表达了一种期望,即期望候选人应当对他们自己的选民做出一个“巨大的个人承诺”。所以有一批强有力的当地支持者是极为必要的。自由民主党在伊斯特雷格的新候选人麦克·桑顿(Mike Thornton)正是这种类型的代表。他是一位有着20年散发竞选传单经验的老手,且是5年的固定议员。他承认为竞选奔波“有时是一种雄心壮志”。
Once singularly control-freakish, in 2011 the Labour Party dropped its multi-stage pre-screening process and allowed aspirants to apply directly to stand for individual seats. Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, is watching the new batch of selectees cautiously, but declares himself satisfied with the quality of candidates. “All power to the members”, he proclaims, noting that the process favours a certain type of candidate, one who can organise neighbours to battle library closures, high street loan sharks, antisocial behaviour and the like. Such activities, says Mr McNicol, underpin “everything we will do” in the run-up to the 2015 election.
2011年,曾经极度控制与自己政见不同的候选人的工党,放弃了自己的多级预先筛选的程序,并允许有抱负者直接去申请代表个人的席位。工党的总书记伊恩·麦克尼克尔(Iain McNicol)正在仔细的观察着新的一批入选人员,但他声称自己对候选者的质量较为满意。他提倡“有能力者为之”,他同时也留意到这个程序对其中一种类型的候选人十分有利,他们可以把邻居组织起来抗议公共图书馆的关闭,高额的活期拆放贷款诈骗,反社会行为等类似的情况。麦克尼克尔先生表示在2015年大选的预备阶段中,这样的活动会加强工党“全心全意为人民服务”的理念。
But there is a limit to how much party machines can control their intake. Before the last election the Conservatives gave priority to an “A-list” of prospective candidates deemed politically desirable for their glamour, youth, professional success, sex or ethnicity. Sure enough, the independent-minded 2010 intake contains few grey party drones. It has also proved head-bangingly unruly and virtually unleadable. Party leaders should be careful what they wish for.
但是政党机制中控制他们新入选的候选者到什么程度的仍存在一个限制。在上一次的选举中,保守党对排在名单前列的准候选者给予了优先考虑,这些人魅力十足,充满活力,事业成功,同时还拥有性别和种族上的优势,这些都被视为理想化的从政条件。可以肯定的是,单从2011年的大选结果看来,新入选的议员中有来自背景不明的不入流党派。这种情况也证明了这些议员是冲动莽撞,难以驾驭的,且实际上是无法被领导的。各党派的领导人应当认真思虑一下自己到底要的是什么。


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