Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run

The Labour leadership primary in Edinburgh East was cast into doubt this evening when it became clear that only 300 people had voted in a contest which used the wrong rules.

This article is jointly written by Shamik Das and Will Straw

With the Labour leadership race entering the home straight, the result of the Edinburgh East primary was cast in doubt this evening when it became clear that only 300 people had voted in a contest which used the wrong rules.

The Edinburgh East primary was held using first-past-the-post in contravention of the Labour party’s rulebook. A spokesman for the Labour party confirmed to Left Foot Forward that CLP supporting nominations must be held using the transferable vote system – also known as Alternative Vote – the same as used in the election itself. Around 1,000 ballot papers were distributed in recent weeks with a reported turnout of 27 per cent. The turnout was significantly lower than the 5,000 people who voted in the Bassetlaw primary.

The YouGov poll of Labour Party members last month indicated that Ed Miliband won 61 per cent of second preferences from supporters of Diane Abbott, Ed Balls, and Andy Burnham. If this held true in the Edinburgh it would have been enough to give Ed Miliband the narrowest of victories, possibly a margin of just one vote.

Local MP, Sheila Gilmore, nominated Diane Abbott but had pledged to give her vote – which is equivalent to the ballots of 1,000 members in the CLP section of the electoral college – to the winner of the primary. She will now come under pressure to organise a re-run.

While the David Miliband campaign claimed victory, a spokesman for Ed Miliband told Left Foot Forward:

“This result shows that the leadership election is absolutely all to play for. Ed intends to use the next few weeks to continue speaking to as many labour members and trade union members as possible. His message that Labour must change to win again is being well received.”

UPDATE 18.17

The David Miliband campaign have been in touch asking us to clarify that the Edinburgh East CLP’s supporting nomination went to Ed Miliband earlier this summer. The primary vote which concluded today was an indicative poll to influence Sheila Gilmore’s vote in the electoral college. It is, of course, up to the MP as to whether to cast her vote on this basis, particularly in light of the question marks over the rules used in the ballot.

UPDATE 10.15 24/8

Jon Rentoul has a blog this morning questioning the methodology used in our analysis above. I wanted to post the following comment but the Indy’s bizarre comments system won’t let me using Open ID. It’s here instead:

“A fair point and glad you liked the picture. But the reason for our post was not to conclusively suggest that Ed Miliband had won. How could we know? Indeed, the sample of 329 ABB supporters is sufficiently small that the margin of victory would have been well inside the margin of error as your post also shows.

“The point of the post was to show that the election had been conducted using an electoral system (first-past-the-post) which the party never uses and which both Milibands are committed to opposing. Given that the outcome is being used to determine how Sheila Gilmore votes, it should either be re-run or she should adopt the Burkean position of almost all her PLP colleagues and vote for the Miliband (or other candidate) that she wants to see as leader.”

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22 Responses to “Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run”

  1. tom_watson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run? http://bit.ly/9XkKGx #LabourLeader <-good point but there's more to life..

  2. Bob Smytherman

    Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run? http://bit.ly/9Qvh9R

  3. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run http://bit.ly/9XkKGx #LabourLeader @Ed_Miliband @DMiliband

  4. Darren Bridgman

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run http://bit.ly/9XkKGx #LabourLeader

  5. Will Straw

    @gregbeales Indeed. But only just. http://bit.ly/abjuLd

  6. Alexandra Runswick

    Calls for Ed East primary to be rerun for using FPTP rather than AV http://bit.ly/a4usCz if only this was true for gen elections #takeitback

  7. peter

    oh please – a CLP does its best to get the electorate involved – and sad anoraks tell them it wasn’t the right kind of electoral system! f*ck pr and all its fancy ways of doing things. Well Done Edinburgh East for asking Labour voters what they think.

  8. Jack

    Sounds like this story should be withdrawn, as there is nothing ‘contravening party rules’ in a consultative straw poll of members, which removes any imperative for rerunning it. She is free to vote whichever way she chooses, on whatever basis she chooses. In many ways, it defeats the purpose of the electoral college if MPs just act as reinforcement of the local party vote; presumably the idea of giving an extra weighted vote to MPs is to allow them to act in the party’s best interests as they see them, not just follow their voters’ opinions (which are already represented).

  9. Trakgalvis

    Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run http://bit.ly/9XkKGx #LabourLeader via @leftfootfwd

  10. Blair McDougall

    @leftfootfwd Which section of the rulebook was contravened? Pretty serious (and baseless) allegation to throw about http://bit.ly/9XkKGx

  11. hangbitch

    Slightly off piste here, fellas, but thought I’d crack in anyway – why doesn’t your blogroll include women? Any women at all…?

    I mean – we can’t ALL be shit…?

  12. Trakgalvis

    Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run http://bit.ly/9XkKGx #LabourLeader via @leftfootfwd

  13. Hitchin England

    Why the Edinburgh East primary should be re-run http://bit.ly/9XkKGx #LabourLeader via @leftfootfwd

  14. Mark Pack

    Labour members complain some in Labour not using AV 🙂 http://bit.ly/am0fOa

  15. Mark Pack

    Labour members complain some in Labour not using AV 🙂 http://bit.ly/am0fOa

  16. Jess Freeman

    RT @markpack: Labour members complain some in Labour not using AV 🙂 http://bit.ly/am0fOa

  17. Jess Freeman

    RT @markpack: Labour members complain some in Labour not using AV 🙂 http://bit.ly/am0fOa

  18. Haberman

    What I don’t understand is why this was ever allowed to happen under FPTP? The Labour Party believes that internal contests should be conducted under AV (hence why the London Mayoral, Leadership Contest and the Constituency Nominations all used this system). Both David and Ed Miliband believe that this should be the case. Why then should a vote which may well decide the contest (given how close the contest is and the weight of MPs votes)be conducted under a system which it seems in this instance has given a different result? The Labour Party needs to be consistent with which system it uses, and I don’t think Sheila Gilmore should feel bound by a result which under the correct system would likely have been different.

  19. Tom

    Regardless of the voting method used, I really don’t like this tendency towards primaries. Sheila Gilmore is going to cast her vote – which under the electoral college is worth the same as the votes of about 700 ordinary subs-paying party members, or several thousand trade unionists – on the basis of a few hundred votes by her constituents. Surely if you want to influence the selections of a political party, you should join that party, or at least an affiliated trade union or society. Otherwise what’s the point of membership?

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