As today was the final day for CLP nominations, we were also able to see one of the experiments of the leadership election come to fruition. John Mann MP and his Bassetlaw constituency have held a primary of identified Labour supporters (along with a number of people living in Labour households) in an attempt to find a candidate supported by the wider Labour-supporting electorate, rather than just the Labour membership or GC delegates.
David Miliband secured a comfortable victory, winning in the first round with over 50% of the vote. David beat his brother into second place, with a margin of victory of over 30% (50.3% vs 20.2%). Turnout was aproximately 33%.
I must admit that when I initially heard the result of the primary I assumed that David’s name recognition with the wider public would have benefitted him – but considering that this should have aided Diane Abbott too (and she was top of the alphabetical ballot paper), and she came last with 6.5%, then it looks an even more impressive victory for David. As Left Foot Forward reported, David also performed well on second preferences, perhaps strengthening Douglas Alexander’s assertion that David can win on second preferences.
Obviously this is only one vote, in one constituency – but it could be indicative of how David might do in the trade union section where non-members will be voting. I’m hearing that there may be similar primaries planned in other constituencies (although CLP nominations have closed) but we’ll being you news of these if/when we hear anything.
Perhaps one of the most significant outcomes of today’s result is that John Mann MP will be changing his vote in the MPs section based on the result. John was originally backing Ed Miliband, but will now be voting for David. As MPs votes are so precious, and worth many multiples of members votes, this is a real boost for David’s campaign at the expense of his brother. David has also been hoovering up votes from MPs who had nominated other candidates – and we’ll be tracking these as we move towards the final vote.
Speaking to John this evening, he seemed pleased with how the primary had gone. John was clear that “The principle is that we listen to the voters”, and he denied that it was a difficult decision for him to swap allegiances, saying that “It would’ve been if it were a close result.” However after a pre-count yesterday evening, it was obvious that wouldn’t be the case. Mann was also keen to stress that they’ve done well with C2 voters, which he believes gives the vote significance and perhaps suggests a strength for David in that area.
The Bassetlaw primary is an interesting move for a local party – and is sure to increase the clamour for local primaries for selecting candidates. John Mann has agreed to write for us on his experiences in Bassetlaw – so keep an eye out for that in the coming days.