A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A wide open race

Assuming that everyone in the MPs and MEPs 1/3 of the electoral college votes the way they nominated for Deputy Leader (which is a big assumption as people will swap around as the front-runners emerge and, for instance, because some people tactically nominated Benn to get him on the ballot but won't vote for him) - the actual shares of the electoral college tied up are:

Johnson 7.4%
Harman 6.0%
Hain 4.7%
Cruddas 4.6%
Blears 4.5%
Benn 4.4%

21 MPs and MEPs - 1.9% of the entire electoral college - did not nominate.

Who are they and what way might they vote?

Firstly there is a group with strong connections to Gordon Brown who we can presume are being held back to pile in behind his favoured candidate:
Gordon Brown - might not vote if he wants to stay above the fray
Jack Straw - his Campaign Manager
Doug Henderson - long-term Brown supporter
George Mudie - worked with Nick Brown to organise 2004 tuition fees revolt
Ian Austin - one of his PPSs
Ann Keen - his other PPS
Alan Keen - Ann Keen's husband
Sylvia Heal - Ann Keen's sister but might not vote as she is Deputy Speaker

The others are:
Margaret Beckett
Anne Begg - probably a potential Harman supporter?
Tony Blair - may not vote if wants to stay above the fray, if he does will be Johnson or Blears
Charles Clarke - I'm guessing he will go for Johnson or Blears
David Clelland - ditto
John Denham - difficult to call which way he will go as he's a kind-of anti-war Blairite
Roger Godsiff - also unpredictable, formerly hard right so probably not a fan of Harman or Hain, but rebels quite a bit now
Keith Hill - Blair's PPS - likely to back Johnson or Blears
Piara Khabra - rumoured not to be well, very important vote as he can sway the votes of several thousand Sikh members in his Ealing Southall CLP, which has the largest membership in the UK
John McDonnell - I'm guessing he will like his closest supporters be switching from Cruddas to Benn
John Spellar - almost certain to back Johnson and I'm guessing second preference is Blears
Richard Corbett MEP - Johnson or Blears?
Linda McAvan MEP

In terms of the other two thirds of the electoral college there's everything still to play for.

I'm picking up movement from Cruddas to Benn and from Johnson and Harman to Blears amongst activists but out there amongst the 90% of the membership who are not active (and on an even greater scale amongst trade unionists) people have not yet tuned into this contest, none of the names have high recognition (except Benn because of his dad, which cuts both ways) and people at the moment can't differentiate between a crowded field of candidates.

I'm old enough to have been a member during the 1988, 1992 and 1994 contests and the key thing to remember is that these are very fluid processes, particularly now that with OMOV so many people are involved.

In the '94 contest Beckett started out as the establishment's preferred candidate as incumbent, but said something wrong during the campaign and much of the moderate vote flipped over mid-campaign to Prescott - e.g. Labour Students nominated Beckett but voted for Prescott.

Key factors are:
- momentum - once someone gets a bandwagon going it develops a life of its own - similarly in reverse if the vultures are seen circling over a campaign
- the ground war - endorsements from TU General Secretaries are all very well but do they have the grassroots networks in place in the big workplaces to turn out their members? - some do, some don't and in some of the big unions the General Secretaries don't politically control every region or industrial sector of their union; similarly with MPs - are the MPs backing you the kind that will go door-to-door in their CLP getting members to vote for you or can they only deliver their own vote?
- the air war - will the 90% of members and 99% of trade unionists who don't go to a hustings see you in the papers and on the telly and if they do will it differentiate you in their minds from the other 5? Will your issues resonate at this level? - these are people who have never and will never go to a party meeting and their views and interests are nearer to those of ordinary voters than they are to those of political activists.

Expect the unexpected - and don't expect the candidates to emerge in the same order they are in in terms of nominations.


Anonymous Andrea said...

"Piara Khabra - rumoured not to be well, very important vote as he can sway the votes of several thousand Sikh members in his Ealing Southall CLP, which has the largest membership in the UK"

He was in Hain's list of declared supporters

9:36 pm, May 19, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

He didn't nominate him in the end.

8:20 am, May 20, 2007

Blogger HenryG said...

He was in hospital from what I understand.

12:11 pm, May 20, 2007

Anonymous Andrea said...

yes, he's now well recently

12:14 pm, May 20, 2007


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