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Another reason Labour members might vote No

John Rentoul

38246944 stephentwigg150 Another reason Labour members might vote NoDavid Herdson at Political Betting asks, “How much has Ed’s win boosted the pro-AV camp?” Which mistakenly assumes that it has boosted it at all.

As I said at a Progress fringe meeting in Manchester last week, I thought Ed Miliband’s victory under the Alternative Vote system that the Labour Party uses for its internal elections would set back support for a Yes campaign in next year’s referendum.

I support AV, but Labour Party members, who are already sceptical about preferential voting according to YouGov (page 4), will be even less likely to support a system that produced the wrong result as far as they are concerned. They voted by 54-46 per cent for David Miliband after transfers, only to be overwhelmed by the 40-60 per cent vote in the trade union section.

If the ballot had been a “first-past-the-post” election, and if people voted only for their first preferences, David would have won by 38-34 per cent in the whole electoral college.

Stephen Twigg (above), the former chairman of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform who was chairing the session, was not convinced.

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  • postageincluded

    Mr Rentoul is mixing up two aspects of the Leadership election system here – the Alternative Vote, and the use of an electoral college including Trade Unionists votes.

    Without the Trade Unionists AV would have given their David a decisive win with more than 50% of the preference vote. So if David’s supporters among the membership and MPs have a grouse, it is with the make up of electoral college, not with the use of AV.

    However, in a First-Past-The-Post election, David would have won, but he would have appeared, nevertheless, to be in a minority in his party, with only 38% of the vote for him, and 62% against. Even if Trade Unionists were excluded and members and MPs given equal weight David would still only have got 43% of the vote, with 57% against. Davidites might not see this as a democratic deficit, but you can bet your life that a good part of that 62%/57% would see it that way. And those elements of the Press now saying Ed is the Unions’ choice would be saying just as loud that most of the Labour Party were against David’s election, and that the party was fatally divided.

    So although I’m sure that Mr Rentoul is right to suppose some Labour members will take against AV now, on the “We Wuz Robbed” argument – I think they are being illogical and self-serving if they do so.

    Though I would like to see AV for the Commons, I believe the election of a Party leader needs a less divisive system aimed to produce a compromise candidate – preferably a “Condorcet” system such as the Schulze Method. It would be interesting to know who would have won this election under that system – but without details of the secondary votes of the Milibands’ primary voters I can’t work that out. I think it’s pretty clear though that David wouldn’t have won as he was not perceived as a compromise, but as representing one wing, or even one faction – a recipe for losing in a Condorcet election

  • porkfright

    More material for the “Banned List”-Any article with the headline “Another Reason” or “More Reasons”!

  • http://twitter.com/Broxted Ciaran Rehill

    John has not has his “Goebells moment”. His last words (on realising the Reich was finished) were “Les jeux son fait”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    The main reason Labour supporters may vote No is simply to have a go at the Fib Dems

  • jamietaylor

    Well, I’m not an expert – but from the ’shop floor’ my view is that if AV and PR get you a group of sell-outs like the Lib-Dems who’re able to put the Tories back into government – and by the same token if it can be used by Union bosses to have their man put into the leadership of the Labour party, largly ignoring the wishes of the oridinary Labour member and the PLP – then I’ll vote against it. I always thought that I’d favour AV/PR – but not any more.


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