Labour deputy leadership candidates back move to fairer internal elections

Posted on the 26th January 2020

  • Press release from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 26th Jan

Labour deputy leadership candidates have backed the ERS’ call for a change to how Labour’s national bodies are elected – moving from the current ‘block voting’ winner-takes-all system, to a preferential voting system ‘where every vote counts’. 

Labour’s National Executive Committee and National Policy Forum are currently elected using a winner-takes-all system, leading to the most powerful ‘bloc’ often dominating, far more than their vote share warrants. It leads to thousands of ‘wasted votes’ and is seen as a factor behind hyper-factionalism and polarisation in politics.

The Electoral Reform Society and Open Labour hustings in Nottingham on Sunday (26th) saw deputy leadership candidates challenged to back a fairer, preferential system for all internal elections. Many internal Labour selections already use a preferential or proportional voting system (such as AV or the Single Transferable Vote – STV).

On switching to STV for internal Labour elections, deputy leadership candidates backed the call, with Richard Burgon saying the decision should be put to members.

Ian Murray: “I was part of the group that brought in STV for local govt in Scotland, and it’s a very good way forward.”

“We should have the same electoral system for all internal labour elections – if that’s STV, let’s do that as quickly as possible. We need a much more proportional system for internal elections.”

Dawn Butler: “Yes” to STV

Richard Burgon: “I’m very open minded about the idea of STV, and will go beyond that. Party members should be given choice of how our party elections run. If members decide [to back STV], then we should do so.”

Rosena Allin Khan: “I fully support the STV system. I’m so proud we’re abroad church and that needs to be reflected everywhere.”

Angela Rayner: Backing STV, she said: “We have to blow open our democracy. People feel they have no control over their lives.

“We can’t have one part of the party dominating. We have to find ways of unifying the party.”

Leadership candidates Emily Thornberry – who has previously been an advocate of First Past the Post – also backed STV for internal elections

A spokesperson for the ERS welcomed the news: “This is a real step forward, with deputy leadership candidates recognising the need for a less polarising electoral system in the party.

“We hope all leadership candidates now back our call for a proportional voting system for the House of Commons too, to make sure seats match votes and everyone’s voice is heard.”

The deputy debate also saw candidates clash on complaints procedures for racism, while candidates backed calls for an overhaul of the House of Lords.

You can watch the live from Nottingham: Link here (full video will be available to view afterwards):


The Open Labour/ERS hustings is backed by the Social Review as a media partner. Unlock Democracy and Make Votes Matter are supporting the event.

The Electoral Reform Society is the UK’s leading democracy group, campaigning for proportional representation and reform to Britain’s political system. The ERS is a pressure group and think tank, working with all parties and none to stand up for voters and make the case for positive political reform.

Open Labour represent the Labour party’s ‘open, democratic left’.

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