Jeremy Corbyn has caused a stir by taking the lead in the Constituency Labour Party nomination race – with 57 CLPs backing him, he has the most support. But it’s unclear how good a guide CLP nominations actually are. Does this really mean that Corbyn is in the lead with Labour Party members? Or are the types of people who go to the meetings unrepresentative of the wider membership?
To try and see if the Corbyn bandwagon is indeed stormin’, I’ve done a little bit of quick maths.
I took all of the 162 CLPs who have so far nominated a candidate, and found out how many nominated a candidate in 2010 – 95 had. Then I checked the first preference results from 2010, broken down by CLP, to see what correlation there was between nomination and voting pattern.
It is not perfect – it only covers 15% of all CLPs and does not take into account the Alternative Vote system – but it does give us a bit more of an idea.
Of those CLPs, in 53% of cases the candidate who won most first preferences was the same one who had been nominated. Strikingly, in the CLPs where a different candidate was nominated to the one who received most votes, it was David Miliband who benefited 91% of the time. This seems to give some credence to the theory that Labour activists are generally more left wing than the general membership.
In fact, if a CLP nominated a candidate who was not a Miliband, there was again a 91% chance of the membership voting for one anyway (and almost always for David rather than Ed).
There is also a strong pattern of this in the CLPs that have nominated Jeremy Corbyn. In 32% of them, David Miliband won on first preference votes last time despite not being nominated – this is a higher average than appears in CLPs that have nominated Burnham (17%), Cooper (26%), or Kendall (30%) this time. It certainly seems to imply that CLPs supporting Corbyn are more likely to have an activist base to the left of their memberships.
In fact, of all the CLPs nominating Corbyn, David Miliband topped the vote in 81% of them. (This figure, incidentally, could be higher – but several seats have undergone boundary and name changes, and are included in the other 19%.)
Broadly, then, CLPs nominating left wing candidates have a history of not voting for them. But there is a problem with this assumption, which is that the almost sole beneficiary of this quirk in 2010 was the obvious frontrunner, David Miliband – and one of the reasons he was so obviously the frontrunner was that he had the most CLP nominations. This time, it is Corbyn leading by that measure, and he has far outstripped the numbers Abbott, Balls and Burnham managed five years ago.