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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nomination Thresholds

The hard left's attempt to move the goalposts by reducing the percentage of Labour MPs needed to nominate a candidate for Labour Leader from 12.5 to 7.5% was defeated by 84% to 16%. Looks like we are not going to be seeing John McDonnell on the ballot paper any decade soon.


Blogger Merseymike said...

But is that actually beneficial? Given that he would be soundly defeated, what is gained by not allowing him to stand?

11:55 am, September 24, 2008

Anonymous Dan said...

In McDonnell's case it would have been good for the Party if he had stood against Brown, and been resoundingly defeated. However in the long term it can't be a good idea to enable someone to become leader of the Parliamentary Party who has essentially no support in the PLP.

1:55 pm, September 24, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see how little influence the lunatic fringe has.


2:23 pm, September 24, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

The result isn't surprising - conference is hardly a democratic arena. Favoured sons and daughters of each constituency being elected delegate and people not taking much interest in rule changes and voting the way the NEC says.

If there had been an election, I expect McDonnell would've done much better than most people expecting - gaining maybe 25% of the vote. Brown would have won comfortably but we'd have gained more members in the meantime, Brown would've had a chance to introduce himself to the country because there was a contest people would've stayed interested like they did for the Tory contest - and the unions would've had increased bargaining power with Brown in return for a recommendation to vote for him, so we'd probably have had a few more pro-worker policies early on. Plus from a left point of view there would have been ideas raised and given mainstream media coverage that hardly ever see the limelight. Okay, so Brown would've been on the other side (like most of the public on a lot of those issues), but surely that would give people like Luke even more reason to welcome the debate?

I honestly can't see how an election would've done us any harm at all. I don't believe that only 16% of the party would approve of the scenario I've outlined above, I believe it's more to do with the way conference works.

Of course, that was at a time when the public expected a leadership election and would therefore forgive us a short break from governing to do our campaigning. In this economic situation, they wouldn't forgive us a break from governing to have an election now, so imo the Calder Valley resolution was right to change the rules for when there is a contest, and right too not to change the rules for challenging an existing leader.

5:34 pm, September 24, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

It's disappointing I have to say. 20-odd per cent of CLPs supported, along with the CWU. Not that bad considering the daft spin efforts to try and turn it into an attack on the leader, and the pointless opposition to the idea.

Inevitably people take less interest in rule changes than your or I, Luke. But this was an eminently sensible rule change, and it doesn't do us any good to reject sensible changes when they're proposed.

The alternative I'm working on on the back of an envelope right now, for a future conference, will appeal much more to affiliates. But this was one was a good, sensible compromise.

8:40 pm, September 24, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

John McDonnell is what this party needs now, if he was leader the RMT and other Unions would have been back in, therefore strengthening the party and gaining more activists and funds. At the moment the party relies on some right wing dominated EC members of the Union throwing members money at the NLP without trying to negotiate a better deal from NLP.And then there are some donations from the mega Rich, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours when they donate to Labour.

Its time we had J M as PM and Deputy PM Jeremy Corbyn and A Scargill in the Cabinet along with Bob Crow.

12:20 am, September 25, 2008

Anonymous SecretSanta said...

I wish we could have had a leadership challeger first time round. I think we could have avoided a lot of the criticism if we had.

I suspect that a rule change would have brought a few others out of their shells, and McDonnell wouldn't have had a look in.
We only talk about McDonnell coz he had the balls to face defeat at the nomination stage, not many have skin thick enough to live that one down.

I fairly strongly blame the other new labour lot, for not having the plumbs (sorry girls) to throw them selves in front of the Brown band wagon.

So we had no debate, no assement of 10 years of new labour, no chance to say what we liked and what we don't like (yes we are allowed to not like things), no real indicator of what is going to change, other than the quite frankly rediculous + now discredited lines about "bringing an end to spin" followed by twelve months of silence from the party leader as the journalists and political commentators attempt to kill a man by "a death by a thousand (news)paper cuts."

The speech on Tuesday was fantastic and I think will probably put an end to any attempts to remove Gords as leader. The problem is that although it has tamed the Labour Members and reminded them why in theory Gords should be a better leaded than Blair, this is a million miles away from convinving the public.

Luke always likes to tell us how important it was that the Labour party appealed to middle England - to achieve our aims as a party we had be in government which required a the broad electoral appeal that new labour offered.

Well Luke, we have done that and we have gone far, but now we face a different electoral challenge, and one that has very little to do with your irrelavent obsession with the Left/right split.

Brown addressed in his speach many of the issues that we have succeeded on and in many cases pioneered over the last 10 years, but unless he communicates on the same issues for which he is unpopular at the moment the electorate will not be listening.

This cannot be done through speaches, or fabian pamphlets. It cannot be acheived through bogus consultations like Blairs "Big Ask" or other non existent PR exersises. It can only truely be acheived by communicating like Blair used to.

Love him or Loathe him he acheived huge amounts by being prepared to take to the most un-likely platforms for a Lbour leader and taking stick. He also communicated to us on an healthily regular basis. By the time you picked up the Evening Standard TB's quote was already there, defending the Government immediately (not two weeks later).

My fear is and has been for months now that without a (or several!) personality transplants in number 10, we will loose!

I hope and pray that I am wrong and will give Gordon all the support I can muster in the next General Election. But if we see and learn as little of him over the rest of the parliament, as we have over the last 12 months we are in big trouble.

Come on Gordon stop knocking around with bullies and start doing your own PR.


2:09 am, September 25, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

There will be a future change to the leadership election process because - quite apart from any current debates or concerns - the process we have is inadequate and, from having been trail-blazers of party democracy, we are now being left behind by other parties; I think people should have run with the Calder Valley proposal.

Others I've heard expressed are: (from people closer to the centre and right of the party who wanted a contest) emulate the Tory system and have the PLP always choose 2 candidates who go to a national vote; the other main idea doing the rounds (with a number of variations) is to maintain 12.5% and 20% as thresholds but expand it to any part of the college, i.e. if 12.5% of CLPs or 12.5% of affiliate branches nominate someone they become a candidate.

The first is problematic because, while it would have ensured a better situation 14 months ago, it could hugely limit the role of the party members and trade unions in some future elections. The second is complicated from the point of view of calculating the percentages, but I suspect will probably see some support coalescing around it (and is likely to be popular amongst some of our affiliates for obvious reasons).

Sometimes compromise proposals are worth embracing.

2:20 pm, September 25, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

I like the second idea (for the 12.5% threshold) because it would encourage candidates to run grassroots campaigns, talking with CLPs rather than just to MPs to secure nominations.

However, I'm not sure it should apply to the 20% threshold too - I can imagine how a long-drawn out process of CLP after CLP voting over a period of maybe six months to get rid of a current leader would create a terrible story for the press and pretty much doom us to defeat whether there was then a leadership election or not.

Having 2 candidates whatever seems to give MPs more power, not less. That idea seems like just a knee-jerk reaction to the situation last time. Although that situation highlighted a problem we have to look to the future, not behind us.

8:19 pm, September 25, 2008

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Sort of agree with MerseyMike and certainly with Dan ... this time Luke it would have helped.

But I've never been that keen on reducing the threshhold which is a proportion not an absolute of course.

This is:

(a) Because this could also help knifers of the right trying to oust someone further to the left

(b) Because looking at the other parts of the electoral college have opportunities for meaningful nomination seems more significant

The left have had rulebook innovations turned by the right and should IMO know better

Party leader and PM could be different people and the former a non-parliamentarian is also a concept worth some thought over the decades while we wait for John McD to make some more friends

10:04 pm, September 25, 2008

Blogger Chris Paul said...

On the other elements of the electoral college one that Dr Dunc mentions I'm not sure the same threshholds make sense - perhaps if OMOV - but if it's just CLP GCs or TU Barons casting in bulk it might be problematic.

Again like Bennite rule changes this would/could have potential to help parties within parties of the right vide parliamentary selections.

Be careful what we wish for I say. Start making the existing rules work a bit harder for us.

10:13 pm, September 25, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Chris - this seems to just show once again the extraordinary lack of understanding of the proposed (defeated) rule change that was abroad: it would have made it no easier for anybody to knife any leader as it was a proposal only for when there was a vacancy. The people who supported the change were perfectly cogniscent of the fact that the change would have helped 'Blairites' (etc.) put up a candidate last time too, and welcomed that fact: we simply shouldn't be scared of elections.

You're right, if we were to let any section of the college nominate (with the same percentages) then that could be used to topple an existing leader (this is why I think people should have run with the Calder Valley proposal) but there would be little logic for only welcoming the nominations of other parts of the college when there's a vacancy.

The rules on how local organisations nominate could, of course, be toughened up, but I suspect a change along these lines could well be what we end up with so it might be time to start thinking it through.

8:24 am, September 26, 2008


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