The electoral college… If Labour achieved one good thing by electing Jeremy Corbyn as their leader on Saturday, it was giving me an opportunity to update one of my old To The Point charts. The new version is pasted above. It shows the proportions of Labour’s electoral college that voted for the winning candidate in each of the last seven leadership contests.
…and how it no longer applies. Of course, the system for electing Labour’s leader changed this time around – which rather complicates the chart. There’s no longer a proper electoral college, just one-member-one-vote. But there is still enough information to break down Corbyn’s vote into different groups. He gained 59.5 per cent of all the first preferences cast. This included 59.9 per cent of Labour members and registered supporters’ votes; 57.6 per cent of affiliated members’ votes; and… well, we don’t know exactly how much of the Parliamentary Party he managed to win over. Although it probably worked out very well for him that the PLP no longer counts for a third of all the votes.
Not close, but closer. Corbyn’s victory fits into a general trend that I mentioned in my original post: despite him waltzing to the leadership in the first round, the contest was still a good deal closer than they used to be. Neil Kinnock and John Smith both won around 90 per cent of all first preferences in their victories in 1988 and 1992.
Avoiding the MiliControversy…But Corbyn did manage to avoid the controversy that followed directly from Ed Miliband’s manner of victory. There was only one part of the electoral college that supported the previous Labour leader outright, after four rounds of voting: the affiliated members, who are mostly from the unions. Whereas Corbyn gained majority support from party members and registered supporters, as well as from the unions. His triumph wasn’t utterly dependent on the brothers.
…by falling into a new one. The Corbyn controversy is actually hidden in the bar for Labour party members and registered supporters. I’ve lumped these two groups together for the sake of consistency across the chart, but the registered supporters are actually a new bloc of voters. They are those who gave £3 to have their say – and they backed Corbyn wholesale. 83.8 per cent of them voted for him, compared to just 49.6 per cent of standard members. In their rush to diminish the influence of the unions, Labour have imposed another major influence upon the party.