13 July 2016

My Understanding of NEC Ruling (So Far!)

There are 3 ways to vote in the Labour leadership contest.

1. As a current full member whose membership started before January 12th 2016 and whose membership is continuous thereafter.

2. As a "registered" affiliate supporter through membership of an affiliated union or organisation. (Costs vary but much less than £25) and registration is possible until August 8th 2016 (to be confirmed).

3. As a newly registered supporter (cost £25) in a "48 hour window" between July 18th and 20th. (Times & dates to be confirmed this Thursday 14th July).

All of this might still change, it seems very chaotic on the hoof decisions are being taken!

The exclusion of new party members (less than 6 months) might have taken away automatic voting rights from around 150,000 of Labour's 530,000 current membership. This 150,000 would have contained the heaviest concentration of Corbyn supporters. Maybe 80%+ of these 150,000 new members support Corbyn.

But don't despair. A lot of these members may still get a chance to vote. Either through being existing union members and registering as affiliate supporters for free OR by paying the £25 supporter fee. Although it is still unclear whether some members will be excluded from this latter option.

It is also still unclear whether those who newly join an affiliated union or organisation will be able to vote. An August 8th 2016 cut off point has been mentioned. And this certainly would be cheaper than the £25 option, maybe as little cost as £2. But it seems incredible that the NEC would allow this opportunity to bypass the £25 fee. Unless they have no way of influencing affiliated groups to stop it.

In the Summer 2015 Leaders Election around 422,000 votes were cast, out of a total electorate of about 550,000 eligible members, supporters & affiliates.

Corbyn got 251,000 first preference votes, all his opponents together 171,000. It is important to stress that these were first prefs. Corbyn would have got more once further prefs of other eliminated candidates were added in.

58% of these 422,000 votes were by full members, 17% affiliated & 25% the £3 registered supporters.

So the total votes in each category were approximately as follows:-

245,000 members
72,000 affiliates
105,000 supporters

The £25 charge & tiny 48 hour registration period seems certain to drastically reduce the registered supporter category this time. My guess would be to less than 25,000. And if new members of affiliated organisations & unions are allowed to register (until August 8th??) it would seem crazy to pay £25 for a vote you can get as an affiliated supporter for much less.

So, depending on the rules, I expect the affiliate category to be much larger this time. And this I suspect is where the real battle will be.

Those 245,000 member votes came from a total party membership at the time of around 290,000.

With 150,000 new members excluded, the "six month plus" membership is probably around 330,000. So members vote prob only a little higher - around 275,000 on a similar turnout.

So in summary,

In this 2016 election, I expect around 30,000 more voters in the members category and around 80,000 less voters in the registered supporter category than the 2015 election.

This leaves the affiliate supporter category, and depending on the rules, we could see an explosion of extra votes here as the potential 150,000 excluded members go here to get their vote. This is an extra hoop they are being made to jump through, so it will be interesting to see how many follow this route (or whether they are blocked in some way).

The other unknown factor is how seriously the unions organise their vote. In 2015, apart from Unite, the unions made little effort. Some didn't endorse any candidate from the start, but this time most seem to be mobilising behind Corbyn. There is also the newly affiliated FBU and Baker's Union who strongly back Corbyn. I assume their members will now also get a chance to be affiliated supporters.

There are potentially 4m affiliated voters if all registered. Obviously as demonstrated last time, only 72,000 actually registered and then voted. Depending on the factors mentioned this could go as high as 200,000ish. Though I doubt much more than this unless the unions seriously organise their members. It will be interesting to see how much each side campaign in this category and unions tend not to be that co-operative to outside campaigners for perhaps obvious reasons. The Unite website crashed last night, which gives you an idea of where Corbyn supporters are looking to get their vote registered.

The big argument of the Labour right used to be to garner the less politically engaged votes through the supporter category. It now seems they have completely given up on that strategy with the new higher fee and tiny registration period. So, despite all the shenanigans I expect a similar number of votes - between 400,000 and 500,000 - mainly depending on the affiliate numbers (100,000 to 200,000ish). So 250,000+ votes again should give Corbyn victory.

So, I am intrigued as to what the Labour Right strategy is to defeat Corbyn?

At the moment I can only see them blaming the "union vote" for defeating them, when in actual fact most of this vote is likely to be the newer members excluded by the cut off point becoming affiliate voters.

I think Corbyn can win amongst the full membership even excluding those newer members who joined in last 6 months. Let alone the other categories! But any election is unpredictable, and this time Corbyn won't have the element of surprise or the novelty factor. A hard fought election lies ahead. I just hope it's not as nasty an election as I fear it might be. The tactics that will be used against Corbyn and his supporters could be brutal.

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