I, like others, am not sure about the decision for having such a short window for nominations – just nine days. It does seem counter-productive to the idea of a deep discussion with a wide field: the NEC has opted for a long leadership campaign, but a peculiarly short nominations process, which would block the arrival of late candidates who wish to try to shape the campaign.
In addition, many MPs will not have had the chance to think properly about their future or the party’s, or to consult with the wider movement. New MPs will have been in the House just over a week by the time nominations close. Only the old guard will have the ops in place to mount a bid. The ruling essentially curtails and stifles the process and shuts down much of the debate before it can begin.
The full timetable is:
Monday 24th May: Opening of PLP nominations.
Thursday 27th May: Close of PLP nominations.
Friday 28th May: Deadline of acceptance of nomination by nominated candidates. Supporting nominations open.
June/July: Hustings. Labour says:
“The Labour Party will work with a range of organisations to ensure regional balance and encourage affiliates and third party organisations to organise workplace hustings involving members and supporters. We will explore new media hustings to ensure the public are able to take part in the process.”
Monday 26th July: Close of supporting nominations.
Monday 16th August to Wednesday 22nd September: Balloting takes place.
Wednesday 8th September: Freeze date for new members to join.
Saturday 25th September: Announcement of ballot result.
Harriet Harman has said:
“Over the next few months, up to 4 million people will have the chance to help shape Britain’s progressive future by choosing the next leader of the Labour Party. The new leader will be unveiled at the start of this year’s annual conference on Saturday September 25th.
“This leadership election is an important opportunity for the Labour Party to reflect, renew itself and re-engage with the people of Britain. The timetable agreed today will ensure the contest is open, engaging and energising. We will reach out to Labour Party members, to supporters in affiliated organisations and most importantly to the voters. Over the coming months, the candidates will meet thousands of people at meetings across the country, including events organised in workplaces and take part in innovative online discussions and campaigns.
“This leadership contest is Labour’s opportunity to re-engage with the British people, to be a constructive and powerful opposition to the new government and take forward the rebuilding of our party for the future challenges ahead.”
UPDATE: Nominations will be closed at 12.30pm on Thursday, May 27th. Late entrants will, therefore, not be allowed.
UPDATE: The NEC has just voted for a leadership ballot to close on September 22nd.
The NEC are meeting now to discuss the timetabling and framework for the leadership election.
Anthony Painter has written that Labour should take this opportunity to have a deputy leadership contest as well as a leaderhsip contest, and that Harriet Harman should stand in both. Sunder Katwala at the Fabians agrees. Jon Cruddas’ assertion that “the role of rebuilding and energising the party is a job that doesn’t have a vacancy” is fuelling speculation that such a contest could be on the cards.
So far, I’ve heard news from the NEC that any potential contestant for the deputy leadership would need the backing of 52 MPs to support a potential candidacy.
Laura Kuenssberg is also reporting that Harriet Harman is pushing for a long leadership contest. But finances may dictate that a second conference event to showcase a new leader is infeasible, and that the contest will need to be wrapped up by annual conference.
The NEC has also voted against issue of nomination papers, as per the rules.
Ann Black had also previously written that members who have joined since May 6th should be enfranchised with the vote in the contest.
I’ll update this blog with more news as I receive it.