Opening the field…..
David Miliband has made the rather magnanimous offer to support any Labour leadership candidate struggling for enough MP’s nominations to make it onto the final ballot paper. Cynically, I would say his motivation for this is to ensure that his victory (which I am sure he privately expects though publically, of course, he is much more coy) is one that has an unassailable mandate. However cynical David’s motives may (or may not) be I think this intervention is welcome, as is the fact that he is at least questioning how our leader is elected and is prepared to ‘push the envelope some radical suggestions (although I don’t agree re TV debates).
All leadership candidates should follow suit and ask their ‘excess’ MP’s to tactically *nominate* while reserving the right to support whomever they see fit. Meanwhile, Tom Harris MP caused some problems by opening up the debate about the broadness of the field between his Twitter followers. He says that even if we have a choice of three then that is better than what the Conservatives have previously been offered which rather misses the point; it’s a bit like saying a three-wheeled van is better than a tricycle; it maybe true but it’s not much consolation when the van claps out a mile more than the tricycle loses its third wheel.
Tom is on safer ground when he rightly asserts that our leader will need significant support amongst the Parliamentary Party. However, that is not the same as saying the PLP own’s this Party; it does not and never should and while it’s right that candidates require a certain amount of MP’s to nominate those MP’s making their choice must think about their duty to the wider Party and not their own career prospects. Following on from this it is wrong that;
MPs still have the greatest say in all of this; an MP’s vote in the election is weighted and counts for far more than any other individual vote in the other two sections.
Weighting to votes at the final stage must be the same; it is wrong for MP’s who effectively run the nomination process and determine the slate to have their votes doubly weighted on-top of that; this weighting is something that will have to be looked into and most likely changed. Labour’s next leader will have to look into not just radical policy changes but radical changes to the Party structure too.