Rewind… Here we go again. Exactly a week ago, I published a To The Point post on Labour’s recent leadership elections. Its graph showed what proportion of the winning candidates’ final tally came from each part of the electoral college: Labour parliamentarians, party members and affiliated members. But the very first comment, from Bob3142, took issue with my method. “You’ve forgotten that before Blair,” he wrote, “the electoral college was not weighted by 1/3 each, but by 40:30:30 in favour of affiliates” – and so my graph overstated Neil Kinnock and John Smith’s reliance on the union vote.
…and redo. The truth, as I wrote in a reply to Bob3142, wasn’t that I’d forgotten the old 40:30:30 weighting, but that I’d forgotten to mention it. So here is a post to rectify that. And it’s also a post to present the data in a different way, as suggested by Bob3142. The above graph shows what proportion of each part of Labour’s electoral college voted for the winning candidate in the final round of voting. My old graph and post still stands, I think, as I explained in that original reply. Treat this one as an addendum.
Closer and closer. What does this new graph show us? First of all, that Labour leadership elections have, broadly speaking, been getting closer. If we ignore Gordon Brown’s coronation in 2007, the leader has gone from securing about 90 per cent of the electoral college’s support to a little bit over 50 per cent – and that’s just the overall figure. Back in 1992, John Smith secured 97.7 per cent of the party membership vote, 96.3 percent of the affiliate vote, and 77.3 per cent of the parliamentary party. Ed Miliband’s victory and even Tony Blair’s were far more equivocal.
Blair’s uniqueness. This week’s graph also supports the observation that I made last week, about the uniqueness of Tony Blair. He is the only one of these leaders to have won with i) the smallest amount of his support coming from affiliated members, and ii) the largest from Labour parliamentarians.
Miliband’s uniqueness. But Tone isn’t the only one who stands alone. As Bob3142 pointed out, the thing that defined Ed Miliband’s triumph was its narrowness. His support among the affiliated membership – 59.8 per cent – wasn’t that high compared to many of his predecessors, but it was the only part of the electoral college that he won overall, and in an election where his final tally was 50.7 per cent. This, more than anything, is what formed the caricature of him as the unions’ man.