labour's internal elections
Open, inclusive, accountable
Labour is a democratic socialist party. We differ from many other political parties in that we strive to reach decisions and make policy based on the views of our members.
But it's not feasible to establish and record the opinions of every single party member, every time a decision is made. So members elect delegates to represent them at a range of levels, including CLPs and branches, Conference delegates, the National Policy Forum and the NEC.
We believe the way Labour's own internal elections are conducted should be subject to the same level of scrutiny that we apply to elections at Westminster.
preference-based voting for internal elections
The Labour Party already elects its leader by preference-based voting. The Alternative Vote (AV) system is well understood and widely popular - members appreciate being able to cast their vote for their preferred candidate, knowing that if that candidate is eliminated, their second choice will be counted.
In 2021 the NEC changed its method for electing Constituency representatives to the Single Transferable Vote (STV).
We welcome these changes and believe they should be extended to elections and selections at every level in the Labour Party.
advantages of the single transferable vote (STV)
Whenever multiple members are being elected to a single body, STV has major advantages over any other system:
- It reduces the likelihood a of complete change of personnel, and so delivers a level of continuity – FPTP elections can result in every member of a body, however effective or dedicated they might be, being replaced by a whole new set of people, as a result of rather small swings in political opinion within the Party.
- It rewards individual effectiveness and integrity.
- It gives far more equal weight to the views of every voter. Someone who votes for a range of candidates under STV is unlikely not to have their vote count towards the election of a candidate.
- It delivers a level of pluralism – internal Party bodies are more able to represent
the members of the Party, and to defuse any factional resentment, if all shades of
opinion are able to be expressed. Democratic accountability is about allowing alternative opinions to be heard, and then uniting around the agreed position.
We support the use of preference-based voting in internal Labour Party elections whenever possible.
Where a single position is being elected, the Alternative Vote (AV) is likely to be the appropriate method - for example, it would be suitable for electing most officer positions at CLP level.
Where more than one position is to be filled (such as a CLP selecting Conference delegates), there are clear advantages to the use of STV.
LCER does not believe that FPTP is acceptable wherever more than two people are standing for an internal Labour position. We call for the use of AV and STV to be enshrined more thoroughly in the Party rule book.
more than voting systems
Good voting systems are crucial, but they aren't the whole story - a properly democratic party also needs to be committed to open, inclusive and accountable processes.
Party Conference LCER supports an open and inclusive Conference, greater awareness amongst the members of the rules and procedures for Conference, and the greatest possible involvement of members in the policy aspects of Conference.
The National Policy Forum would benefit from a clearer remit, more engagement with members, more transparent and better-publicised elections, and more emphasis on specific policies. Members need to feel that their views have a real chance of being reflected in the reports of the NPF if those views are shared by a majority of the membership.
In terms of the selection of candidates for public office, we acknowledge that the NEC must ensure that Labour Candidates do not bring our party into disrepute, and that it is not unreasonable for there to be criteria for longlisting and shortlisting. However, these criteria must be clear, objective, non-factional and challengeable; any prospective candidate who falls short of these critera has the right to know why.
LCER will work with the Party to identify changes which can make our internal democracy clearer and more effective, and promote such changes in a comradely fashion.