But it was a comment by Susan Press in Saturday's Guardian which really got me thinking:
Democracy should be about making a choice and people can't make a choice if they are not hearing the candidates speak and answer questions.The current rules state that you can only have a postal ballot if you know you can't make the hustings. And I thought, actually, if you've made your mind up about who you want to vote for, why shouldn't you have a postal vote? We all know things happen last minute - children get ill, you have to stay at work late - so why should you be disenfranchised from voting for your parliamentary candidate, one of the few powers local Labour members have, just because we have an outdated notion about needing to be at the hustings.
If the candidates have done their job properly you should know all their views backwards! If they haven't knocked at your door four times, had inordinate amounts of cups of tea, explained their position on the electoral system, Trident, Iraq and the recession, and sent you a nice card afterwards, they haven't pulled their finger out. Of course it would be best if you could hear everyone give their stump speech - after all, we know politicians perform differently on a one-to-one and it's always good to see if they crumble in front of a bigger audience - but if you have heard all the candidates' views and want to be on the safe side I think you should be allowed to request a postal vote without needing to give a reason.
I think this presenteeism represents a wider problem with the way the party operates. Unless you can make your branch meeting or GC it's hard to have a say in the way your local party works. And yet we know that online forums give people who live busy ordinary lives the opportunity to get involved, yet we don't allow for proxy votes or give people systems to debate without turning up to the church hall every month. I think we need to get a little bit more savvy about the reality of peoples' lives and make it easy for them to participate in key decisions in the party, not harder.