And well they should be smiling. With formal nominations now closed the race for the leadership is becoming very much a sibling affair. So here are the scores on the doors and an explanation of what happens next.
Diane Abbot – 33 MPs, 2 Trade Unions (ASLEF, TSSA), 2 Socialist Societies and 20 Constituency Parties.
Ed Balls – 33MPs, 1 Trade Union (CWU), 2 Socialist Societies and 17 Constituency Parties
Andy Burnham – 33MPs, 0 Trade Unions, 1 Socialist Society and 44 Constituency Parties
David Miliband – 81MPs, 2 Trade Unions (Community, USDAW), 1 Socialist Society, 165 Constituency Parties
Ed Miliband – 63MPs, 6 Trade Unions (GMB, Unite, Unison, NUM, UCATT, Unity), 3 Socialist Societies, 151 Constituency Parties
In short David has a lead amongst MPs and Constituencies but Ed has a significant advantage within the Union section, not just in numbers but also in scale with the big 3 all supporting him. So, what does this mean? In a sense, nothing. The nominations only indicate support for a leader. The days of block votes are long gone and each individual member has the opportunity to vote for their personal preference. Having said that, momentum is everything and it is clear that ‘the Mo’ is with the Miliband brothers.
For those of you who are not Labour party geeks here is a bit of guidance of what will happen next. Rather than a straight, simple election the Labour Party has a slightly more complex ‘Electoral College’ with MPs, Trade Unions and affiliated societies and the Labour party membership each getting a third of the votes. The idea behind this is to equalise power across the different sections of the party, ensuring no-one holds too much sway but that everyone is fully represented. In a peculiar twist it also means that some people will actually get 3 votes – for instance if you are an MP who is also an individual member and a member of a trade union.Ballot papers will land from the 1st September, with the result announced at conference on the 25th September.The vote itself is known as a transferable eliminating ballot (not so different to the Alternative Vote system that we will all get a chance to vote on sometime next year). This means that, if no-one can claim 50%+1 of all votes cast in the first round, whoever comes bottom of the poll will be eliminated and their 2nd preference votes added to the original totals – this will continue until there is an outright winner. Simple
As for who I am backing? Well it is going to be Ed. He is running a positive, issues based campaign that really resonates with me. As importantly, he of all candidates, grasps the importance of organising to win. Labour as a party has forgotten how to build a grass-roots movement through energetic, timely local campaigns. Ed’s team seem to be building exactly this kind of movement in their bid for the leadership and it great to see. If you want to see more of what I am talking about visit his website here.
Come back soon for more updates on the campaign.