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July 14, 2010

Comments

pablopatito

The closest real world example to what you're describing is John Major's cabinet. I'm sure he felt lucky to be Prime Minister and he also ran a far less hierarchical government that Thatcher or Blair.

The question is, was Major's government better as a result?

paul

Might be worth extending the lottery to the whole population. Would achieve aims one to five, while having the added advantage of when a Labour PM uses the word 'people' he/she/TSTD might a clue what they are talikng about.

Keith

Surely a collective leadership frequently rotating in office would make more sence on socialst and anarchist grounds. It would stop the cult of personality that helps produce the abuse of power.

rjw

well, but we might end up with harriet harman.

Keith

Would Harriet Harperson be any worse than the crop now on offer?

Labour had the option of Barbara Castle or Denis Healey but prefered sunny Jim Callaghan and various Trade Union time servers.

At least Harman is as upper class as call me Dave and so wont take any s**t from Eton boy.

Stu

Major was chosen as the least offensive option to the warring factions. He was a Thatcherite (unlike Heseltine), but not a head-banger. The ultimate consensus man, not a lottery winner.

However, maybe we should reflect on the thought that under a lottery Brown (or heaven forfend, Prescott) could have become Labour leader in 1994 instead of 2007 and whether that would have been a good thing...

chris y

All officials in the Athenia democracy were selected by lot, except military commanders who were elected in an open ballot. Athens has left us some fine literature, mainly by people who opposed the system, and a lot of picturesque ruins.

On the other hand, there's no evidence that the day to day running of the state, such as it was, the courts and the revenue and so forth, was any less effective than in any other late iron age society.

I suspect that a lottery for leadership of the Labour Party, however, would swiftly lead to the demise thereof, through the defection of everybody who didn't like the winner. It's hard enough for elected leaders to establish any kind of legitimacy, let alone one whose position was owed to dumb luck.

Churm Rincewind

For an interesting exploration of this general approach, may I commend Borges' short story THE BABYLONIAN LOTTERY, which postulates a society in which ALL decisions are taken by chance.

Tomboktu

"Might be worth extending the lottery to the whole population."

While not quite at the level of the PM, something similar has been suggested for the House of Lords (and by some, urm, 'respectable' people too):

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/Published%20writing/Democratizing-House-of-Lords.pdf

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