Tuesday, 8 February 2011

How to elect a Labour leader: the LabourList poll

For those who would like a further chance to vote about voting, LabourList have responded to my Next Left post on the options for reforming Labour leadership elections by polling their readers on the status quo, and the various alternatives which I suggested might be considered.

You have until noon on Friday to vote for your favourite of the options proposed.

1. MPs only election
2. One member, one vote
3. Add members of public/supporters as 4th section of electoral college.
4. Keep electoral college: let supporters vote in affiliate section.
5. One supporter, one vote - effectively a leadership "primary".
6. Status quo electoral college.

(Its a first-past-the-post vote, so perhaps LabourList will arrange some further rounds of voting, or a run-off between the top two options later on!)

It has been pointed out that even that list of options canvassed in my earlier post does not exhaust the possibilities. Other possible options would include the current electoral college, but with MPs removed from it (giving a 50-50 member/affiliate split), or alternatively a version of OMOV including everybody within the current franchise (ie, members and affiliates), while removing MPs from having voting power except as members after the nomination stage.

These options might be favoured by those who want current non-member affiliates to participate (unlike in (2) member-only OMOV), but who do not want to extend this to other non-member supporters too (as the reformed college or primary models in (3), (4) and (5) would).

While those possibilities weren't deliberately omitted, I can't see either of these turning out to be politically plausible alternatives. (Nor is reverting to an MP only election). Keeping the electoral college without MPs seems to me to be particularly unlikely. However, the practical effect of both would be to increase the weight of union votes, while much reducing that of MPs, and without extending participation. That is unlikely to be seen as a major legitimacy advance. The early signs are that - if there is any substantive change - the party leadership seem to be interested in thinking about the various routes by which more people might be brought in to participate.


Tim Jinkerson said...

For me it has to be one member, one vote. It's easy enough to join the party, so why not join? And, speaking as someone who would get two votes in a leadership election, I want to say that I think that this is a bad system. Why should I be allowed to vote twice?

Maybe we could offer membership discount to affiliated Union members, but if we all believe in the party, we should be prepared to join and fund it as individuals.

James said...

Of these - (1) MPs only.

My chief concern would be to prevent non-member affiliates landing party members and MPs with a leader they didn't vote for, as seems to have happened on this occasion, with all the problems that brings.

I'd prefer an option for an electoral college with sections for MPs and party members but not non-member affiliates, but in the absence of that, the need for MPs to feel that they have the leader of their choice overrules the one member, one vote option. The leader MUST have the support of Labour MPs in the Commons.

bernard-black said...

James's idea is pretty repugnant to me, and i suspect many others, who find this idea of MP primacy frankly undemocratic, and rather patronising too. Particularly when there have been issues regarding selection of MPs in recent years. As for the removal of non-member affiliates, I'd be against removing the Union and affiliates link. They are an important part of what the party stands for. I don't want a Labour Party run by the unions, but nor do I want it without their involvement.And I say that as someone who isn't a union member. The Labour Party needs to get over its fear of its members and affiliate members.

Sunder Katwala said...

Of course the party won't return to an MP-only election. But, Bernard, are you therefore proposing we stick with things as they are, or would you prefer a different system which includes affiliates?