Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A few secrets and important questions about the Labour Leadership Vote

It really was very naughty of Ed to vanish to Oz to train for his new role as Shadow High Commissioner to Canberra and leave ever hopeful Harriet behind to grapple with the horrors of Labour's leadership election.

There must  be something wrong somewhere. Every time she attempts to explain how brilliant it is the processes become more "rigorous", and "careful" and the result more "final and fair" If the proliferation of adjectival praise  makes it lawyer proof  the result will be published with a supreme court commendation and a PR pamphlet with models (supplied by the DWP) saying he happy they are to have been excluded from the vote and how character-building it's been.

I'm glad to hear that Matthew Parris's Llamas were excluded from the ballot. I've nothing against Llamas but Matthew might have pulled the wool over their eyes but despite this triumph it's still  possible  to doubt whether the checks inadequate as they are would have been even that good had the party not suddenly woken up to the fact that the wider franchise (with an MP who knows the candidates having the same voting weight as Joe Bloggs) people's Jeremy might win. The only trouble is that Labour's organisation is so shambolic and understaffed that it's safer to expect a mess and live with it as the only result we're capable of making until we build a competent efficient machine. Until then  we should be suspicious about the major points of weakness.
1)There is no way of knowing whether those signed up to vote as registered supporters support the aims and objectives of the Labour Party. We don't know how they voted, canvas returns are partial and notoriously unreliable and constituency secretaries are partisans not impartial judges
2) Taking three pounds off people promising them a vote on the leadership and then rejecting their vote is fraud  though it will only give them a claim in the small claims court rather than one which invalidates the result
3) Checking the electoral rolls is a haphazard process.The rolls are months out of date and  constituency secretaries varied in their assiduity and allegiances. In the selection of my successor the votes of my three kids who'd been Grimsby members for thirty years were rejected but the constituency secretary because they were no longer on the Grimsby roll but others in the same situation weren't. Trade union membership isn't organised on a constituency basis so mistakes are likely.
4 The number of members affiliated through unions looks pathetically small. It was further reduced by eliminating double membership but even so It's difficult to be satisfied that all  those with two votes have been weeded out.
5 We're told that checking is still going on. Yet the ballot papers have all gone out. Does this men that some votes are being rejected when they come back. Does it mean that officials know who voted how?.
It's good that the four candidates have all accepted the system and announced that they won't rush to the courts. Not that they had any alternative at this stage of the game.  But unless the process yields a thumpingly clear result  it isn't going to produce satisfaction  and it's already made us look daft. I don't mind looking naive because idealists often are, but silly is too much.  

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