Yes to OMOV. No to registered supporters. Ed Miliband’s party reforms are killing Labour

by Daniel Charleston Downes

We can now forget the Ed Stone and the bacon sandwiches, we now know for sure the most damaging thing that Ed Miliband did for the Labour party. The recalibration of votes among members to one member one vote was essential and the right thing to do, but then this was extended too far into a new concept of registered supporters.

It makes sense to take the selection of leader away from just MPs. MPs have maintained their right to select who makes it to the ballot, but even then they seem to have done everything that they possibly can to misplace that power. Once the ballots are out it is correct that the PLP should have the same weight as those delivering leaflets and running campaigns.

The fact of the matter is that registering to support a party was always going to result in some mischief. As it happens it has meant that there are those in the Conservative party that have sought a vote in order to pick what they consider to be the least desirable electoral option for Labour and it has encouraged those from the far left to sway the ballot.

Both pose their own problems. Opening yourself up so that your opposition can infiltrate your leadership selection is foolish, particularly if MPs are nominating a candidate whilst denouncing them as a suicide ticket. This should never be allowed to happen and unless the NEC can guarantee that not one vote has been cast by an individual for the sole intention of disrupting the party, the vote should not go ahead. I would be amazed if they can do this with any confidence.

The second issue is that it has exacerbated and even created divisions within the party that weren’t prevalent before the election. There were a great many members that wanted a deeper anti-austerity message but many were able to assess that need against electoral pragmatism.

On the doorstep they were hearing concerns about immigration and Labour’s soft approach to welfare and they knew that Labour needed to do more to ease those concerns as well as change the debate. Many of those that ‘support’ the party that have registered after supporting the Greens, TUSC, Left Unity and other more radical left parties have no such concerns for pragmatism. The Tory-lite label that Corbyn tarred other candidates with has begun to take common parlance as someone who does not support a far-left vision of the party. There is now a divide between true Labour, being the Labour of Hardie and Henderson presumably, and centrist, closet Tory Labour.

The party needs to take interest in these views, there is evidence that Labour lost votes to the left and in the working class communities that used to be its stronghold. However the strategy of pledging old school socialist policies such as unilateral disarmament and nationalisation of major industry as well as services has never been successful. Nor was it in 2015 when those parties offering anti-austerity, anti-trident, pro-welfare manifestos received a slice of the vote against the core parties that still gained almost 80% nationally.

Nethertheless if that is the will of the members then that is the direction that the party should consider. However we can no longer guarantee that it is the members that will be heard, nor do we know to what extent other voices will have sway. Thousands have already been barred from voting in the leadership election, so how confident is Harman that those represent an exhaustive list. If one Trotskyist, one Tory or anyone else who has no real interest in a successful Labour party will cast a vote? It appears some may even be casting more than one vote, can we be sure that not one individual can cast more than one vote?

It is clear that the ‘democratic’ experiment of this election has not only failed, but seriously damaged the party. Not only should this election not go ahead, but there should be serious questions raised so that this can never happen again.

Dan Downes is a Labour campaigner, a secondary school teacher and blogs at 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

32 Responses to “Yes to OMOV. No to registered supporters. Ed Miliband’s party reforms are killing Labour”

  1. David Walker says:

    About 500-1000 Tory nutters will have paid three quid to vote for Corbyn. About half will have triumphantly made clear their underhand intentions when signing up. Everyone else who has registered will be people who have previously voted Labour, or who would very much like to.

    Under Blair, New Labour was merely vacuous. Without him, the party has also proved to be utterly incompetent. This election was the brainchild of the man that most of you thought was capable of running the country. It is beyond farce.

    Corbyn has won and he’s at least given the people the party was created to represent a bit of hope.

  2. PeterA5145 says:

    Are you including UKIP within the “anti-austerity, anti-trident, pro-welfare” parties? The SNP and Greens together only got 8.5% of the vote.

  3. Adam Gray says:

    Nowt wrong with a registered supporters scheme: as the loony left so readily points out: long been a goal of those who are the genuine custodians of Labour values on the right of the party. The flaw was deciding to give registered supporters a vote for leader: something that should always have been limited to full members.

    There has to be a half-way house for those unwilling or unable to pay Labour’s absurd membership fees (especially in an era where, regardless of this passing entryist surge, belonging to a political party is a fetish for a tiny percentage of weirdos). There is no downside to getting Labour voters involved in the party, invited to events and campaigning sessions; asked if they’re up for delivering some leaflets and kept informed with local news and regular contact with councillors and activists. But I know of no-one who advocated such a scheme from the get-go (and I’m one such) who was demanding registered supporters get a vote for party candidates. That was another Idiot Ed concoction and, as with everything he touches, was bound to turn to dung.

  4. Mike Homfray says:

    Remember who insisted on the introduction of this system.

    The Blairite right.

  5. Kaine says:

    Did you campaign against the Collins Review? If not, this is what you asked for.

  6. Well Daniel, looking at your history of being in both the Conservatives and the Greens, shouldn’t that bar you from voting in this leadership election;-)

  7. Ryland1 says:

    morning…. the answer is simple – party has a rule which works very well – in every other selection process, you have to be a member for 6 months before you can vote; this should have applied in the leadership election.

  8. swatantra says:

    A sensible article for a change on Uncut.
    Yes to OMOV, because Labour has to be a membership organisation with only members making the rules and playing by the rules . If you want to participate, then bloody well join. And that goes for Affiliates as well. By all means have observers and visitors and open up meetings to supporters and let them help if they want to, but they should not interfere in the more important decisions we take.

  9. Mike Stallard says:

    Some very deep questions are hidden in here:
    1. Referenda have often been used by dictators because they are very easy to manipulate; most people do not care a damn and just put their cross anywhere. Also they can be whipped (Alex Salmond) into a frenzy (Jeremy Corbyn) very easily indeed without thinking. So asking everyone to vote is lunacy.
    2. Socialism a la Jeremy Corbyn died a long time ago. Russia proved it in 1980. So did Tanzania much earlier. So did Harold Wilson. More recently Mr Brown’s idea of buying votes with hand-outs nearly bankrupted the country – a policy which the present government is pursuing with abandonment too.
    3. Before the election, the general appeal was “We Care. We, alone look after the vulnerable, the poor, the weak. Tories are just posh toffs who are in for themselves.” The electorate did not buy that. What we, down here, need was not even discussed in the rush for hand-outs. That is why the Labour Party crashed.
    4. Running a country from a tiny office in London with one eye on the TV and the other on popularity will not work in Scotland and now it will not work at all.

  10. Richard says:

    I am confused.
    The Collins Report stated it’s aim was a mass party with mass involvement, he got his stated aim.
    The left oppose the leadership election changes as a clear attempt to reduce Union influence. We lose and we shut up when the right win.
    Blair comes out in support of the changes to the leadership election, wishing he’d been able to introduce them.
    At the start of this campaign Harmon invited anybody to vote, whomsoever they had voted for and supported in the past when she said this
    No mention of enterist tactics or values, just please vote.
    Before the leadership election began I can find no evidence of anybody at all saying hold on a minute this will be a mess.
    Corbyn cannot even get enough votes to enter so he is lent nominations to ‘broaden thr debate’ as the right feel that he will fare no better than Abbott did last time.
    Then all hell let’s lose.
    The election isn’t going as planed so we get #LabourPurge; calls to stop the election; threats of legal challenge and retrospective decrying of the rules by the right after they got what they wanted.
    Have you any idea how this looks to those outside? Politics and politicians are held in such low esteem that they rank with journalists, bankers and estate agents in disapproval polls and we get a politician filling halls all over the country and alleged labour supporters are trying their hardest to pull us through the muck and him through the muck as they don’t like the result they appear to be getting.
    I know many of the right fear a Corbyn victory as they believe that he won’t win in 2020, fair enough. But the way that you are deporting yourself in defeat in an election you defined with candidates you decided is nothing short of dispicable and it needs to stop or any notion of fraternity will go out of the window and then we really will lose.
    I doubt you will stop though as I believe all too many from the right are with Blair when he said that he wouldn’t support a left platform even if it could win an election, because it’s wrong in principle.
    Well the left never started this battle but I for one hope that if the right don’t get behind Corbyn should he win then they should return in kind.

  11. Sword_of_truth says:

    Time to end the disastrous democratic experiment.

  12. Twinkle says:

    Miliband is of the way left and far far away from centralist policies (not far from far left Corbyn). He has no respect for moderates and could reasonably hope that the new voting procedure he established would always favour far left firebrands.

    Even without Corbyn (or his far left policies) Labour has a mountain to climb to win the next election see
    4 out or 5 of the extra votes Labour will need will have to come from Conservatives in marginals. Far left thinkers need to switch their confirmation bias fully hard on here to safely ignore this data as totally irrelevant.

    Or under Corbyn see “Under Corbyn’s electoral plan, prospects for victory look bleak” at

    Miliband voting procedure has delivered the party into the hands of the far left which could well mean its future is now assured as a rump that nevergains office.

  13. sumgeezer says:

    Only full members of Labour who were existing members at the time the leadership contest was announced, should be entitled to vote. This means the current contest should be stopped.

    Incidentally, a friend went to the Labour website to sign up as a member and was told the membership “starts from £3.88 per month” – and she couldn’t find out if that was the actual sum she would pay as it is “from” but no further information was available. WTF is going on there?

  14. martin says:

    The reforms in themselves were OK. The problem was a complete dereliction of duty by Labour MPs. I liken it to Chernobyl. The safety valves were turned off with disastrous results. After the reforms the Labour MPs were the safety valve. They were supposed to pre select the candidates so only candidates they were prepared to work with were selected. Instead “to widen the debate” they “lent” their votes to somebody whom they didn’t want to work with. Now it has blown up in their faces. The MPs who lent the votes have done more to damage the Labour party than Iraq. They are traitors and should resign.

  15. adams says:

    This latest disaster from Miliband is just par for the course . His climate carbon reducing bill ( when environment Minister) is costing taxpayers £18 billion a year and is achieving nothing except increasing energy bills for us all as well as making British companies uncompetitive . His refusal to give us a referendum before or after the Lisbon Treaty was also stupid and anti democratic . Cameron is also a waste of space .
    We are misruled without doubt from either of the dinosaur Parties .
    Get rid of FPTP for a proper PR system and change our disgusting Parliament for the better .

  16. john P Reid says:

    David Walker, how do you know only 500 tories for corbyn will be rooted out, i’m not saying that it’s bad but the party would be powerless to find people who’ve always voted tory, never signed a nominee paper, and can cash in hand to the Tories told their mates down the pub, who to vote for,there will be 1000’s of tories for corbyn, and if he wins on that basis so be it, but it doesn’t mean this organisation and campaign haven’t been counter productive

    twinkle yes without Corbyn labour needs a 10% swing to win the next election and get a majority of 1,there’s only been 1 time in labours history we had a 10% swing to us 1997.

    mike Homfray yes the right did want open primaries we never said anything about non party members votes being equal to those who’ve been in it for years, and you must accept that there are Tories for corbyn voting for him, with a hope to destroy the party

    kaine ,the Collins review set up after it was revealed Unite signed up it’s activists giving them the entry money to join the party ,to vote for the candidate of their choice in Falkirk, and yes opting in to funding labour via the unions was the result, it was better than giving 33 supporters a choice to vote for the leader, when they could vote for someone they hoped would secretly put labour out of power for years

    well said adam gray and ryland1

    adams, I think Miliband wants the shadow environment job,in a Corbyn shadow cabinet, thats why he gone on holiday to keep quiet

  17. Rob says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha …..

  18. David says:

    It is such a shame that a once great party that started life with such laudable aims ends up not being able to even run a simple leadership election, without it turning into a complete shambles, never mind aspirations to yet again govern this great nation.

    Both times Labour were in power in my lifetime it has left legacies which are reminiscent of a third world dictatorship or failed socialist state like Venezeula, whom Corbyn actually supports.

    In 1979 they left the nation queuing up behind Zimbawe for an IMF loan and we were derided as the sick man of Europe.
    It was such a relief for the country to get back on its feet again as all strivers in 1979 thought we were so diminished after Callaghans Governmnet had nearly bankrupt us and left us in such a state.

    In 2010 the legacy is not much different with again the country almost bankrupt, the middle east on fire through Labour criminal ineptitude and foreign policy, with hordes of poor refugees and migrants trudging through forests as we speak or trying to cross the Med in dinghies to escape the vacuums created through their lies, and incompetence. Millions are now displaced, wounded or in body bags.

    It has come to such a stage tha only this morning everyone is laughing about all women train coaches, (painted pink maybe?).

    Think Labour is definitely yesterday now.

  19. Rallan says:

    “Not only should this election not go ahead, but there should be serious questions raised so that this can never happen again.”

    The Hard Left are taking control of the Labour Party leadership via the widened Labour electorate and will then use boundary reforms to deselect rebellious Labour MPs. Following the leadership election hundreds of thousands of Hard Left supporters who have been able to vote in this election will join as full members (absorbing TUSC and suchlike) so that the party character is radically changed. Hard Left unions already bankroll the Labour Party and others will affiliate once Corbyn is in charge. Many moderate Labour members (Tory-Lite) will find the party atmosphere increasingly hostile and will eventually leave.

    So you’ll soon have a Labour Party with a mostly Hard Left leadership, membership and funding. What makes you think they will do anything to change that?

  20. Shouldn’t we have had this discussion 12 months ago?

    Yes there is a heading in the Collins Report “OMOV”! This is how it was defined

    “The eligible electorate should be composed of members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters. Members of affiliated organisations who are not already party members may take part in the ballot if they register with the party as affiliated
    supporters. This will require them to declare their support for Labour values, provide the party with personal contact details and be on the electoral roll. Individuals who are not already party members or members of an affiliated organisation may take
    part in leadership elections by registering with the party as a supporter. This will require them to declare their support for Labour values, provide the party with personal contact details, be on the electoral roll and pay the party a fee.”

    The party got its blueprint for “Building a One Nation Labour Party” courtesy of Ray Collins who is no lefty. It was approved by the party as whole without any significant opposition. What opposition there was came mainly from the left who weren’t happy about the loss of Union influence.

    Look. These the rules we all agreed to!

  21. TC says:

    David, you are Paul Darce and I claim my five pounds.

  22. paul barker says:

    As others have pointed out, this is a year too late. Trying to change the rules of an election only after you find that you are losing is pretty pathetic. Is this a sign of how Labour centrists intend to conduct themselves post September 12th ? You cant fight for Democracy using undemocratic methods.

  23. rwendland says:

    Agreed petermartin2001. Recall that a Progress editorial regarded the general thrust of the changes as a “prize … which New Labour promised but failed to deliver”.

  24. ad says:

    It makes sense to take the selection of leader away from just MPs.

    MPs know their job prospects after the next election depend on picking the right leader. Other party members do not.

    MPs support for the leader is needed on a day to day basis in the Commons. That is not true of other party members.

    MPs represent the British people. Party members do not.

    Labour’s leader used to be elected by MPs alone. Since then, only one leader has won a majority in Parliament – and most of the party seems to have subsequently decided to loath him.

  25. sammy gravano says:

    ‘…and it has encouraged those from the far left to sway the ballot.’


    Think this through (because you haven’t).

    If I’m from the far left and support Corbyn and pay my hree quid to vote for him I’m apparently ‘swaying the ballot’.

    If I’m from the centre right of the centre left (or wherever) and pay my three quid to vote for Kendall I’m not ‘swaying the ballot’.

    Labour disappearing up its own a*se.

    I didn’t read beyond that in the article (all a bit windbaggy thanks).

  26. Tafia says:

    This is avoiding a truth – amongst the rank and file proper party and union membership, Corbyn is in the lead anyway in both party and union..

    get rid of all the new voters and he’ll still win. Who will you blame then? Immigrants?

    The reality is that in any vote, what the hierarchy want doesn’t always happen.

    And Labour now have a nightmare. Rig this vote and your membership will collapse, the unions will pull the plug on you and the public at large will never ever trust you ever again.

  27. john P Reid says:

    tafia, although the unions lie unite who only pay for a small amount of people to subscribe as fall members, the ones on twitter calling for Kendall and her supporters to join the tories, don’t realise that If corbyn wins it’ll only be by53% at the most ,do they want half the people to leave, and look where Corbyns support is, the inner London Designer labour areas or the Midlands, i doubt Kent has a large Corbyn following ,the sort of areas labour needs to win

  28. John.PReid says:

    Taifa come to think, after the election the £3 people should be asked if they want to join, even if their choice doesn’t win, then Andy, Harriet could say those who don’t want to be in the party ,as their choice didn’t win, aren’t the sort of people labour should want in them

  29. Tafia says:

    If corbyn wins it’ll only be by 53% at the most

    ROFL – do you actually comprehend the vacuousness in that statement? Obviously not or you wouldn’t have written it.

    And I live in Wales – and believe me, he is extraordinarily popular round here. You can find the odd Burnham supporter, a very rare Copper supportwer and I’ve yet to stumble across anyione who even knows who Kendall is. But 8 out of 10 party members, TSSA, ASLEF, UNITE, UNISON & GMB members round here are Corbyn. That’s virtually every union member round here. There’s the odd few in RMT but that’s about it. nearly every party member I know is Corbyn. In fact the only people in the party locally that I have heard mention anyine else are the local MP and his Office Manager – who are voting Burnham.

  30. john P Reid says:

    i’m not saying that,its wrong if he wins by 53% of hte vote, we’ll have to appect that,he maybe popualr in wales, but try the ares,that laobur needs to win,
    Unison excluded htos ewother unions are noted for being left wing,what of the people who arne’t in unions but in the Fbaians or the Co-op

  31. Will Cowling says:

    I am not so sure, I think the registered supporter scheme could turn out to be a great success. Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband were rejected. Labour lost all but one MP in Scotland. More of the same would be unlikely to have returned a Labour government in 2020. The registered supporter scheme has stirred a nation.

  32. Tafia says:

    These voting reforms were wholly supported by the PLP and New Labour. So that is where the fault lies.

Leave a Reply