Saturday, September 25, 2010

Labour's Electoral Collage

The technicolor collage created by Labour's electoral college is so much fun, it beats democracy for entertainment value.

Let's point out the basics first: the Labour Party elects by one member one vote in the sense that each member has one vote but they don't decide the election. The college is divided into three equal parts: Parliamentarians, rank-and-file members, and 'affiliates' which opens up the election to trade union members and to associations linked to the Labour Party, like the Fabians.

It does mean that Labour is saved from the decision being who is the members' favourite: if they had, after the distributions under the AV system, Miliband D. would now be their Leader.

It also means that a Parliamentarian's vote is more valuable than any other member's by a factor of somewhere in the region of 450.

It also means that those who are members of the party and members of a trade union can vote more than once. Each member gets one vote, but some get more than one. (And some who are not members and who can't stand the party got to vote. More than once).

And all that said, here are some interesting facts:

* 'socialists' in health and education will be breaking open the asti spumante, as they strongly backed the winner

* the BME caucus had a bad day, heavily backing Miliband D.

* musicians will be playing a funeral march with their favoured candidate coming last

* Christians preferred D., Jews preferred E. (results from Christian Socialist Movement and Jewish Labour Movement)

* more Unite members spoilt their ballot papers than voted for Balls and Burnham combined

* members of one union -- Unite -- cast nearly half of the votes in the 'Section 3' affiliates, and heavily for Miliband E.

* about nine in every ten trade unionists were bored rigid by the whole process and did not return their ballot papers

What a system, what a result.

Thanks, Trade Unions

I needed a bit of mirth to improve my day, so thank you, thank you so much, Trade Unions. Miliband (D.) wins the overwhelming support of the members of the party, Miliband (E.) edges ahead thanks to the robust support of the closed shop comrades.

What a delight. Not that the young leader of the Labour Party is personally to be disdained: from his pronouncements to date, he has learnt that lesson that a new incumbent can and must break with the mistakes of the past. So, belated opposition to Iraq and at last a leader who appreciates that if you want to begin to be progressive, don't think of introducing ID cards.

But the method of election, with the 'electoral college' being like something out of the old Ealing Comedy, School for Scoundrels, really does give the lie to Mr Blair's claim that he introduced democracy to his party. One trade unionist colleague of mine was eligible to four votes. So, can you take three off Diane Abbott's total, please?

And, when the election parties are over (will victorious Remus invite Romulus to his side of the wall?), tomorrow's hangover won't be a pretty sight. Working out how to present Miliband Junior to the public will be a challenge even Mr Campbell wouldn't relish, one would have thought. As he well knows, you can have a whole raft of good ideas, but if you can't present them adeptly, there's not much point in being in politics. And so the heir to Blair starts with something of a disadvantage.

Oh, and by the way: when will they elect a new Deputy Leader? Can they keep it in the family?