Labour Uncut has seen an unpublished list of MPs who failed to vote in yesterday’s select committee elections.
There were 25 non-voters, one of whom was leadership candidate Diane Abbott. Turnout in the election was 90%.
In the you-scratch-my-back world of the PLP, not voting in this secret ballot was a tactical mistake by Abbott, who was in the House of Commons during the voting hours of 10am till 5pm.
Those MPs who nominated Abbott for the Labour leadership, but in support of whose select committee candidature she did not return the favour, are not likely to be impressed.
After a last-ditch establishment push, Abbott got exactly the 33 nominations needed to qualify for the final leadership ballot. But having nominated a candidate confers no obligation to vote for them.
Some of those who nominated Abbott – Harriet Harman and David Miliband, for instance – have already said that they nominated her only to get in the leadership race and will not vote her.
Converting a reasonable chunk of her other nominations into votes is therefore crucial to Abbott getting a decent showing. Under Labour’s electoral college system, the vote of one MP is worth nearly a thousand party members. (Nominations merely get you in the race, they don’t count towards the result).
The veteran left-winger has been doing well in the contest. Having at one stage seemed unlikely to qualify, it is now conceivable that she may come third, pushing former cabinet ministers Ed Balls and Andy Burnham into fourth and fifth place.
But new MPs such as Chi Onwurah and Gavin Shuker (who stood for the business and transport committees respectively), both of whom nominated Abbott, will presumably be less inclined now to trade up to an actual Abbott vote.
Onwurah succeeded in winning a place on the BIS committee without Abbott’s support. But Shuker’s bid for transport was not so blessed.
Retread Jon Cryer and old stager George Mudie were two of nine candidates competing for five places on the treasury committee. Both nominated Abbott (and both, as it happens, were elected in the end).
Because it is not normally known who did not vote, and because the ballot itself is secret, the usual technique is simply to tell everybody that you voted for them, whether you did or not, whether you turned up or not.
Lindsay Hoyle has an excuse for not voting. As the newly elected deputy Speaker, he is not allowed.
And it is not surprising that old lags who don’t need anybody’s votes any more, like Jack Straw, David Blunkett and Frank Dobson, didn’t bother.
Perhaps more so that Gordon Brown – whose absence from Parliament is earning him adverse criticism – was not on the list of non-voters.
The former PM presumably arranged a proxy. Which was easy, and – on a one line whip day with no votes in the House – is what many members did. Wayne David, for instance, cast Ed Miliband’s votes.
At least Jon Trickett is one Abbott nominator who is unlikely to be angry with her. He wasn’t standing for a select committee; and he didn’t vote either.
Diane Abbott declined to comment.