I have a couple of quibbles with Linda Jack's post (21st March) which asked whether FPC's authority would have been undermined if the Trident motion had been defeated. The quibbles are with the suggestion that FPC, having heard all the evidence, had come up with the motion.
First, the FPC did not hear all the evidence. It did not hear any of the evidence. The Trident Working Group (an ad hoc sub-committee of FPC), or rather those members of it that turned up to evidence sessions, heard the evidence. What the FPC heard was a presentation from the majority of the Working Group, and a presentation from me on behalf of the minority. (The terms majority and minority have no democratic significance as most of the Working Group were picked by the Chair, not elected.) Both presentations were backed up by written reports which came to radically different conclusions.
Secondly FPC did not "come up with" the motion, though it tweaked the phrasing a bit. Nor, oddly enough, did the Working Group. The motion in its essentials was circulated to the Working Group by email and its authors were not named. It did not, in my view, reflect the weight of the evidence that had been received by the Working Group. So whose authority would have been undermined if the motion had been lost?
Influence has shifted away from FPC towards the Parliamentary Party. A significant milestone in this process was the merging of the Policy and Campaigns units. One consequence is that the short term concerns of our Parliamentarians in the Palace of Westminster play a bigger role in policymaking than previously. Is this essential to electoral success? Maybe. Does it result in better policies? In a hundred years who will care who said what to whom across those benches? Will anyone?