Corbyn camp claims he would automatically make ballot in event of new leadership contest

9th March, 2016 5:07 pm

Jeremy Corbyn

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn today confirmed that the Labour leader’s office believe he would automatically be included on the ballot paper if MPs were to force a new leadership elected.

However, the rules surrounding the issue are less than clear, and that claim is privately contested by many within the party.

This comes as a draft proposal by the pro-Corbyn Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) is put forward which would see the number of nominations needed to stand drop drastically. The move is seen as a way to ensure Corbyn, who struggled to win enough nominations to run last summer, would be able to make the ballot more easily. It follows reports that anti-Corbyn Labour MPs may try to oust the leader by the end of the year.

Back in November, The Times reported that legal advice had been given that suggested a sitting leader would need to receive nominations from MPs and MEPs in order to stand again. At the time, sources told LabourList that this was also the position held by some senior party officials.

The advice was based on the precedent set in the 1988 leadership contest, triggered by Tony Benn’s challenge to leader Neil Kinnock, when the incumbent had to seek nominations in order to re-stand.

But that advice is by no means final, and others suggest that the current rules imply automatic inclusion on the ballot for an incumbent. A final decision would likely be taken by Labour’s NEC.

During last year’s leadership contest, Corbyn said that he would like to see Labour’s leader face re-election every one or two years. When he spoke to LabourList in August, before he was elected leader, he cited the 1988 contest a possible model for this.

Asked what he though would be “the best system” for annual leadership elections, he said:

“There used to be, originally, a system where the Labour leader was theoretically elected every year, but it was hardly ever challenged.”

He added that it was not simply a rubber stamp by the party’s annual conference, but an all-member ballot, and referenced the Kinnock versus Benn race.

“It was a wider election. It was an annual election after the party changes in the early ’80s, and that was how there was a challnge to Kinnock in ’88 by Benn and Heffer. And after the election of Blair in ’94[…] the system was then changed”, he said.

“I don’t see why the party should be denied the right to elect people to senior office.”

Corbyn also made clear that the previous system, which would potentially be extremely costly for Labour, was not the only option, and that he wouldn’t “necessarily have the last word” on what the best way forward would be.

“You could do it lots of ways,” he said. “I think the leadership of the party and the Parliamentary Labour Party should be more accountable to the party as a whole. I don’t necessarily have the last word on all this, but there has to be a principle of accountability of what goes on.”

All of this may turn out to be simply academic, however – many in Westminster now believe that Corbyn would have little problem securing the support of enough MPs to make the ballot paper. The strength of support for his leadership from Labour’s grassroots would likely see pressure put on parliamentarians to put Corbyn forward to a vote.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]


  • Comment Internal fighting must not distract us from reconnecting with working people

    Internal fighting must not distract us from reconnecting with working people

    Labour faces a crisis. Boundary changes and internal disputes are bad enough but the clearest challenge is surely the lack of belief in us as a movement by swathes of our traditional voters. At a time of huge political volatility – look at the demise of Lib Dems and the rise of the SNP – the last thing we can afford is the continuing discontent among our core voters that has been exposed in the referendum result. The lack of […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Europe Featured Let’s unite behind Jeremy and turn our fire on the Tories

    Let’s unite behind Jeremy and turn our fire on the Tories

    Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has been amongst those today seeking to blame Jeremy Corbyn for the EU Referendum result. But the reality is the blame lies squarely on David Cameron’s shoulders, which is why he was quite right to resign. To be absolutely clear, YouGov polling shows that 68% of Labour voters voted Remain, but only 43% Tory voters voted Remain. David Cameron failed to convince a majority of Tory voters. We also need to be clear that Jeremy […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Kezia Dugale: Labour will not support another Independence Referendum

    Kezia Dugale: Labour will not support another Independence Referendum

    Kezia Dugdale has said Scottish Labour would not support another independence referendum in the face of the referendum result, saying Scotland does not need “more turmoil, more upheaval and more economic chaos”. The Scottish Labour leader said the unresolved questions from the 2014 vote were still unanswered and repeating the independence referendum would bring instability. Dugdale said the Leave verdict would damage the economy in Scotland, adding that devolved administrations must have a voice in the Brexit negotiation process. “This […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Unions Union leaders back Corbyn against “indulgence” of leadership challenge

    Union leaders back Corbyn against “indulgence” of leadership challenge

    Twelve major trade union leaders have backed Jeremy Corbyn against any leadership challenge following the letter of no confidence lodged against the current leader this morning. The union bosses say the a “manufactured leadership row” is the last thing the party needs in the current crisis, saying it would be an unnecessary indulgence. The letter, from the biggest unions in the UK, demands Labour is a “source of national stability and unity” in the face of Conservative turmoil. They say that, instead of […]

    Read more →
  • News Unions “The last thing Labour needs is a leadership row” – Unions’ statement backing Corbyn

    “The last thing Labour needs is a leadership row” – Unions’ statement backing Corbyn

    The below is a statement from union leaders backing Jeremy Corbyn to continue as Labour leader. The Prime Minister’s resignation has triggered a Tory leadership crisis. At the very time we need politicians to come together for the common good, the Tory party is plunging into a period of argument and infighting. In the absence of a government that puts the people first Labour must unite as a source of national stability and unity. It should focus on speaking up for jobs […]

    Read more →

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends