The Pluralist Party

The best society is a learning society

Frequently Asked Questions (Archived)

What is the Pluralist Party?

The Pluralist Party is a minor party registered to contest elections at community, town and parish council level. There is only one belief that we need to share – That we don’t have to share the same beliefs to make our communities and the world a better place. We are a member of the Crocels Community Media Group for accounting, tax and leadership purposes.

How do I join the Pluralist Party?

To join the Pluralist Party is simple, as we have an open membership meaning people can come and go as they please. The only criteria is that you are either a councillor at community, town or parish council level or you wish to seek election to office and can get enough of the public to nominate you. Send an email to join@pluralist.org.uk.

Why can’t I join if I am not a councillor or candidate? Isn’t that elitist?

A founding principle of the Pluralist Party is that elected representatives are there to serve the public and not their party. Having a membership such as a grass-roots movement creates conflicts between the interests of a councillor’s constituency and the interests of their ‘party faithful’.

If you have no grass-roots members then who selects the candidates?

The public select the candidates by completing nomination forms which are then automatically approved by the nominating officer of the party. This means that it is possible for more Pluralist Party candidates to be fielded than there are vacancies – it is for the public to choose who they want to elect and not a small number of grass-roots persons as in most other parties. This is no better than when ‘rotten boroughs’ chose a community’s representatives.

Do you have a party leader?

Yes we have a permanent party leader, who is the Chief Executive Officer of The Crocels Community Media Group. The party leader cannot tell members (i.e. councillors and candidates) what to believe or direct them to vote a certain way, as is constitutionally independent from the membership. Their role is mainly administrative, to fulfil the party’s obligations to the Electoral Commission. As the CEO of the Crocels Community Media Group they are expected to attempt to convince the members of the Group’s mission and programme, but they do not have the power to impose their views on party members like they would in a traditional party.

Who decides policy? Do you have a party manifesto?

There is no manifesto by the party until after an election. During an election each member (i.e. candidate) stands on their own manifesto as if they were an independent. After the election those candidates who are elected look at their manifestos and find the common ground between them. So in effect it is the public who decide our policy, by voting for the candidates whose policies they agree with.

If the Pluralist Party’s leader is administrative, then who leads the councils that Pluralist Party members are elected to?

It is a founding principle of the Pluralist Party not to be presumptuous and have a leader during an election. After the election the leader is selected from those councillor who got elected. The current party leader, Dzon (known professionally as Jonathan Bishop), would like these to be based on Open Primaries, where the public vote for the councillor they want to be leader. The party’s ‘Chief Squirrel’ Mark Beech would like them to be chosen from whoever gets the most votes of all those elected. But it is up to the members elected to the council to decide how they choose their leader; if they have one at all.

What happens to a member if they lose their election? Do their cease to be a member?

Yes, the membership is only made up of councillors or candidates. So if a person is not either of these they cannot be a member. Our first elected leader, Dzon (known professionally as Jonathan Bishop) was the first person to be both an officer and a member at the same time. He was the first elected member of the Pluralist Party, serving on Pontypridd Town Council until 2012. When he failed to win his election to the neighbouring Llantwit Fardre Community Council in 2012 he ceased being a member and was an officer only.

Can a Pluralist Party member be expelled by the party?

A Pluralist Party member can usually only be expelled from the party if they cease to be a councillor or candidate. So if they are barred from being a candidate under election law then they cease to be a member. And also, if a standards committee of a council suspends them from being a councillor then for that period they are not a member of the Pluralist Party. It is The Pluralist Party’s position that if the public does not agree with a candidate’s views then they should not vote for them. If they don’t like a councillor’s conduct then complain to the relevant authorities. We will not let anyone undermine the will of the people by calling for a candidate or councillor’s resignation.

Who decides who can be an officer?

The Chief Executive Officer of The Crocels Community Group appoints may appoint officers if there are no nominations from members. If there are more people wanting a particular position deemed necessary by the Party leader (e.g. nominating officer) than there are positions then it is for the members to chose the officer by a means they agree. There needs to be at least one officer in addition to the Party leader to comply with Electoral Commission rules, who need not be a member of the Party, but must agree to be part of the Crocels Community Media Group’s executive team.

How are day-to-day decisions made in the Pluralist Parties and on council?

One of the founding principles of the Pluralist Party is that each member has one vote and must vote on the basis of their best judgement and not any other interest. There cannot be a party-whip or any direction of members about how to vote. Members must treat councils as if they were a board of directors. That is; they must say what they genuinely believe, raise any concerns they have, and then after everyone has voted according to their conscience accept whatever the outcome is. Collective responsibility does not mean everyone voting the same way, but to accept the outcome of a vote if due process was followed.

If members have to vote on their best judgement, what happens if their view is different from the public?

It is inevitable that members of the public will have a different opinion to a Plurality Party councillor. The expectation on the councillor is that their judgement should be based on considering all opinions – it is likely that members of the public will disagree with each other. Ideally Pluralist Party councillors will have the ability to find a consensus among the public, that gives all sides what they want – this is called The Fourth Way. It is not a compromise but an agreement.

What about issues like capitalism and socialism? Surely it is not possible to please all people all the time?

This is true. There are some issues like privatisation and nationalisation some people will never agree on. Even New Labour’s ‘Public Private Partnership’ didn’t please most people. If it is not possible to find a Fourth Way on an issue like this (e.g. allowing people to choose to go public or private according to their needs), then it might be best the status quo is maintained. There are so many things that need improving in our communities. It is a founding principle of the Pluralist Party that members focus on achieving the things they agree on first, before taking on the more challenging things they disagree on. A term in office ends quickly, so it is better to get the important things done first rather than argue to the extent nothing gets done.

What is the point in a political party if members can’t discuss and make party policy?

The aim of the Pluralist Party is to try and get the public’s voice over to the authorities, rather than the party’s message over to the public. Our members are expected to involve the public in the important decisions they make. This can include helping members of the public who may disagree with each other to get a fair hearing at council meetings, such as on town and country planning. Pluralist Party councillors are expected to not make a decision about how to vote until they have considered all the evidence.

The Pluralist Party is only a small party – what difference can it really make?

The Pluralist Party is founded on the principle that it is not a cause in its own right, but the means to an end – which is to create win-win outcomes so everyone get what they want in life. Our members can be a member of another party if it allows them to be. And where the opportunity exists members are encouraged to take part in the policy making of other political parties – such as the Labour Party’s ‘Partnership into Power‘ policy making programme. Members can also get involved in public policy by taking part in one of the Crocels Community Media Group’s Voluntary Direct Action Committees.

The Pluralist Party is referred to as CCP – What does this mean?

In 2011 when the Crocels Community Media Group was being formed it was decided it would be desirable to found a political party made up of people who worked together on things they agreed to do together, as opposed to impose their philosophy on others. At the time it was called ‘The Crocels Cooperators’ Party,‘ and by the end of the 2008-2012 local government period in Wales the philosophical premises of the party had been determined which most reflected pluralism and so we registered with the Electoral Commission as the Pluralist Party. This made Dzon (known professionally as Jonathan Bishop) our first elected leader, and first candidate to stand for election in 2012, securing the support of 33 members of the public at the ballot box.