It’s absurd that people registering to vote in the leadership contest say they might not vote Labour

A bit of a hornets nest has been stirred up by my suggestion that those who didn’t vote Labour at the last election shouldn’t get a vote in the Labour leadership. A majority of those who have contacted me to disagree are explicit that having registered for £3, they will not vote Labour if either of the other three candidates win. Some democracy this.


For those who have slogged their guts out for Labour for years to discover that people who couldn’t be bothered to vote or even actively opposed Labour, the consequence of which let the Tories in, can nip in, have a quick vote and then disappear from whence they came is more than galling.

It would be very informative to have separate results for full members and for registered members, with a requirement to win in both sections, but Labour’s bureaucracy cannot cope with this.

A wider franchise is brilliant if it precisely this. All Labour voters being able to vote in full primaries would give a much more representative picture. Perhaps even now some CLPs might choose to have an indicative primary?

Ah, I hear you say, but for £3 they can join. From my canvassing, there are vast numbers who presume there are members through their union, anticipating a vote but not listening to the detail about how and why to register. After all they got a vote last time and regard themselves as members.  I am quite sure others have come across many such workers who believe they are Labour members due to their payment of the political levy.

The newly registered supporters ought to be more from the union-strong Labour industrial heartlands, where Unite, Unison, GMB and other unions have their base.  However, I predict that close analysis will find that they are not coming from traditional working class areas.

The Party should publish the lists by constituency.  I anticipate from my heavy inbox that it is in fact the middle classes and their offspring who are registering.

In my primary that I held in Bassetlaw for the last leadership we had over a 50% turnout of those I got ballot papers to, with over 5,000 voting, or 20% of Labour voters. Across the country to have this translated into two million Labour voters would have given the leadership election real authority.

Instead we now have the absurdity of people who didn’t vote Labour last time registering their support, with many of them explicitly saying that if they don’t get their way they won’t vote Labour in the future. This process of self-selection and rejection of collective responsibility is what I fundamentally object to.

John Mann is the MP for Bassetlaw

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