Labour’s ruling body sets rules and timings for leadership elections

Sienna Rodgers

Labour’s ruling body has agreed the rules and timetable according to which the party leadership and deputy leadership elections will be conducted over the next few months.

Members of the national executive committee decided that the elections will officially kick off tomorrow, January 7th – as widely expected.

They also agreed that ballots should be returned by April 2nd, which is when the leadership contests will close. The results are set to be announced at a special conference on April 4th, and Corbyn has vowed to stay on until then.

New party members will be able to join the party and still secure voting rights until January 20th, as Labour’s updated rulebook mandated that the freeze date should be at least two weeks after the timetable is announced.

Full leadership election timetable:

  • Tuesday 7 January – MP/MEP nominations open
  • Monday 13 January – MP/MEP noms close (2.30pm)
  • Tuesday 14 January – Registered supporters window opens (5pm)
  • Wednesday 15 January – CLP/affiliate nominations open
  • Thursday 16 January – Registered supporters window closes (5pm)
  • Monday 20 January – Freeze date for new members and affiliated supporters (5pm)
  • Friday 14 February – CLP/affiliate nominations close
  • Friday 21 February – Ballot opens
  • Thursday 2 April – Ballot closes (12pm)
  • Saturday 4 April – Result announced at special conference

Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, a Labour spokesperson said: “Our national executive committee has agreed the timetable and process for the leadership and deputy leadership elections. The ballot will run from 21 February to 2 April, with the results announced on Saturday 4 April.

“We are by far the largest political party in the UK with well over half a million members. We want as many of our members and supporters to take part, so it has been designed to be open, fair and democratic.”

Labour’s NEC has decided that candidates will not be granted access to membership data until after the second stage of the process, when CLPs and affiliates nominate.

This ensures that only those running who reach the required nomination thresholds and secure places on the ballot paper can access data, but only leaves one week until ballot papers are sent out.

The fee for registered supporters has been set at £25 and there will be a 48-hour window during which those applicants can register to vote in the contests – the same as in the 2016 leadership election.

As NEC member Alice Perry wrote on LabourList, the fee was increased from £3 to £25 between 2015 and 2016 – but the hike did not deter supporters from registering, with almost twice as many people signing up compared to the previous year.

Although the higher fee helped to raise millions of pounds for the party, it proved controversial as some supporters of Jeremy Corbyn at the time argued that the decision was part of an effort to exclude new pro-Corbyn voters.

Ultimately, almost 70% of registered supporters in 2016 voted for Corbyn with a small minority backing challenger Owen Smith. For comparison, 59% of members chose Corbyn.

In this election, it is expected that registered supporters – as well as new party members and new affiliated supporters, who can also vote – will more likely benefit Corbynsceptic candidate Jess Phillips, as well as frontrunner Keir Starmer.

It was also agreed at the meeting that NEC by-elections – replacing Nav Mishra and Claudia Webbe, who are now Labour MPs and cannot sit as members’ representatives – will run alongside the leadership elections.

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