Ed Miliband: Brave and Right

John Rentoul

Ed Miliband and David Mil 007 300x180 Ed Miliband: Brave and RightThe Labour leader tonight confirms that he will support the change to the rules of future party leadership elections which I outlined in The Independent on Sunday. Some fellow Blairites have been worried that there must be a catch: that the trade union leaders could not really have been persuaded to give up the leverage they have in the existing system, by which Ed Miliband himself was elected.

But Ed Miliband is unambiguous in his interview with Patrick Wintour for tomorrow’s Guardian (full version here):

Only union members who had given positive consent to paying an affiliation fee and then signed up separately to become an affiliated supporter would be able to vote.

The list of affiliated supporters would be controlled by Labour and no one else. Labour would issue the ballot papers for the leadership election, he said, and ensure fair access to affiliated members for all candidates.

As I said on Sunday:

This is huge. This is Ed Miliband’s admission that the way he was elected, though it was just about within the rules at the time, was wrong. He beat his brother because the leaders of Unite and the GMB used their control of members’ information to send out “Vote Ed” flyers with the ballot papers and to use phone banks to canvass for him.

What Ed Miliband has done tonight is necessary, brave and right.

Update: One cavil (sorry to spoil the pro-Ed party). Miliband says in the long version of his interview: “Even on the old system, 60% of Unite members did not vote for me in the leadership election.” This is not strictly right: 43% of them voted for him in the first round (thanks for RF McCarthy for the figures, derived from the Labour Party); a mere 20% voted for David. After transfers in the final round, Ed must have had a huge majority of the Unite vote – that is what swung the leadership for him. Convenient that the figures after transfers are not on the public record.

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  • newfriendofed

    J. R. here perpetuates the myth that the main reason David M. lost the leadership election was because of the voting system. While this opinion is a convenient one given his world view, it ignores the fact that it would have been perfectly possible for David to win under the existing system were it not for him being seen as the Blairite candidate. His own tactics during the election campaign only served to reinforce this view of him. The result is that he did too poorly among both M. P.’s and party members to overcome his (predictably) bad showing among unions members. The main reason Ed M.won was because he was able to tap anti-Blair sentiment in all three voting constituencies,especially but not exclusively in the union section. Remember what a huge underdog he was when the campaign began even though the system that supposedly enabled him to win was already in place. These odds reflected the fact that people (including the bookies) underestimated the extent of anti-Blair sentiment,not the fact that no one understood the voting system. Ed’s main achievement during the campaign was to become the only realistic anti-Balirite candidate. He did so by besting Dianne Abbot and Ed Balls.

  • Ciaron Goggins

    Miliband. Blair Lite (TM).

  • JohnRentoul

    I do no such thing, New Friend. I fully accept that David Miliband lost the leadership because he didn’t fight a good enough campaign. He lost under the rules as they were. I merely agree with Ed that the rules were wrong, because they allowed union bosses to deny access to union membership lists to candidates they didn’t like.

  • newfriendofed

    The phrase ‘he beat his brother because…’ is what struck me. Nor is this the first time you have used similar language in reflecting on the leadership election.

  • porkfright

    Anyone who thinks that the trade unions are still even the 250th. problem in this country is either totally blinkered or simply not paying enough attention.

  • McRobbie

    Well the union leverage gangs will be out in force to make sure members say YES to continuing to be the puppet masters of labour..or else!

  • mightymark

    How are they going to do that if members are receiving and completing ballot papers at home. Kidnap them on the way to the post box? I think there is an electronic option too.

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