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Labour Leadership election – Prediction

It’s still early days to predict the outcome of the Leadership election especially in the trade union ballots but Labour List and Luke Akehurst started it in the Labour blogosphere so here’s my take.

1st Pref (%) PLP TUs CLPs Total
Abbott 3 7 8 18
Balls 5 7 3 15
Burnham 4 3 3 10
Miliband D 12 7 10 29
Miliband E 9 9 11 29

My prediction draws on the Labour List poll of Labour Party members as the basis for the CLP prediction except that I think that the Labour List sample is likely to be slightly biased towards the Centre-Right of the party and I therefore give both Abbott and Balls slightly more and David Miliband slightly less.

Likewise, in the Trade Union ballots, I use the Labour List poll as a starting point but adjust them to reflect the likely effect of Union executive recommendations and turnout, and to reflect the fact that the poll sample is unlikely to be representative of affiliated union members. Executive recommendations have varied as to their effectiveness in the past as the Guardian records:

In 1994 the union executive recommendations counted for nothing in the Labour leadership contest. Faced by a choice of Tony Blair, John Prescott, and Margaret Beckett, every major union recommended their memberships vote for either Beckett or Prescott, and every single union membership voted for Blair… (but) every single union in 2007 that recommended a candidate (for the deputy leadership) delivered between 40 and 50% of their union’s vote to their favourite son or daughter.

To this can be added the experience of the 1981 contest between Tony Benn and Denis Healey where the NUPE ballot returned a vote for Healey in spite of the recommendation and strenuous efforts of the union’s leadership.

A more important fact, I suspect, will be low and differential turnout, since votes are not weighted by individual union affilation levels but simply aggregated. Thus votes cast by members of the CWU, say, could exceed those of USDAW that affiliates almost twice as many members if their turnout is sufficiently higher.

I therefore predict that Balls, who may well pick up significant union nominations and recommendations will do better than his raw poll ratings suggest and that both Milibands slightly worse in consequence.  This is the most speculative aspect of this prediction.

The PLP reflects nominations adjusted for those “lent” and the inclusion of MEPs.

Thus I believe that the Milibands will come out on top and neck-and-neck in the first ballot with Abbott probably in third place. Transfers will, in my view, give it to Ed Miliband reasonably comfortably, though he will have to work for these in the unions where, last time, almost a quarter of deputy leadership voters didn’t register transfers by the final round.

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