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One member, N votes? Jun 15

I was reminded this week, thanks to Labour’s deputy leadership contest, quite what a sham “one member, one vote” in the Labour Party is.

Back in 1993, John Smith convinced the party to end trade union block voting in leadership elections and instead allow each union member their own vote in the election, cutting at a stroke the power of the union bosses. While that sounds democratic, the current system is only marginally more democratic than block voting because one person can be a member in more than one way.

Not only does the electoral college – where votes are weighted three ways between those cast by MPs, by party members and by members of affiliated trade unions – mean that your average MP gets three votes (one in each part of the electoral college, assuming they belong to one union) – but being a member of several unions (and paying the political levy) gives you multiple union votes. Presumably you could have as many votes in this part of the electoral college as there are affiliated unions.

This was brought home to me by a status update from one of my Cruddas-supporting Facebook friends, who proudly declared “voted 7 times for Jon”. I’m pleased to be a member of a party where “one member, one vote” for leadership elections really means what it says.

One Response

  1. 1
    Jonathan Wallace 

    One of my Labour Party friends has only 3 votes. How unfair is that? One for being a member, one for being in the GMB, and one for being in the Labour Gay Rights group, whatever it is called. To compensate for the unreasonably low number of votes he has, be has decided to use them all for the equally small Hazel Blears. That way he knows none of his first preferences will count!