How the Labour leadership vote will work

August 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Labour electoral college for the leadership has three components to it. Two of them are simple and one is complex. Also a complicating factor is that with three candidates, it is a preferential ballot.

Let’s take the three sections one by one.

Caucus Vote

The caucus gets 40% of the vote. They used to get 100%. They are the ones who actually get led by the Leader, and have to work with the leader on a day by day basis.

There are 34 MPs, so effectively each MPs vote is worth 1.18% of the total vote. If the vote is after Lianne Dalziel resigns then there are 33 votes worth 1.21% each.

Members Vote

They get 40% of the vote. Labour have not revealed how many members they have, but let’s say it is 10,000. If they all vote they get 0.004% each. So an individual vote counts for little, but the overall vote of the members does count for the same as the caucus.

Union vote

The affiliated gets 20% of the vote. This is proportional to the number of affiliated members each union has. Again this is not publicly known but we can estimate it. Basically the number of affiliated members is their total number of members multiplied by what percentage voted to affiliate with Labour when they voted to do so. This by definition is a proportion between 50% and 100%.

If we assume all the unions had a similar proportion in favour, then we can estimate their relative voting strength based on their latest returns of members to the Registrar of Unions. The six unions in order of size are:

  1. EPMU (Engineering etc) 36,987 members, 41.5% of union vote, 8.3% of total vote
  2. SWFU (Service Food etc) 22,351 members, 25.1% of union vote, 5.0% of total vote
  3. MWU (Meat) 15,313 members, 17.2% of union vote, 3.4% of total vote
  4. DWU (Dairy) 7,000 members, 7.9% of union vote, 1.6% of total vote
  5. RMTU (Rail) 4,747 members 5.3% of union vote, 1.1% of total vote
  6. MUNZ (Maritime) 2,635 members, 3.0% of union vote, 0.6% of total vote

As one can see the power of unions such as the EPMU and SWFU is considerable and they could well decide who the winner is. This is what happened in the UK Labour Party 2010 election. Ed Miliband won only 46% of the members vote and 47% of the caucus vote but got 60% of the union vote and beat his brother David Miliband. So the elected leader had minority support from both members and caucus, but got there thanks to the unions. The unions actually broke Labour’s rules by including promotion material for their preferred candidate in the same envelope as the voting paper!

But the situation is even worse in NZ Labour, than UK Labour. In UK Labour the unions allow all their members to have a vote. Ballot papers went out to around 2.7 million union members. This diluted the power of the union hierarchy to affect the ballot. They certainly endorsed candidates, and their endorsement won the day for Ed Miliband, but it was still a 60:40 split.

NZ Labour has decided that it is up to each union as to whether all their members will vote, or just their national conference delegates. Only one union, the SWFU, is allowing all members to vote. Good on them for doing so.

The other five unions are having their conference delegates vote only. So how many people is this? Well I’ve gone through the rules for each union to try and estimate this.

  1. EPMU – 1 delegate per 1000 members, 45 delegates
  2. SWFU – full membership vote
  3. MWU  - 1 delegate per 350 members, 54 delegates
  4. DWU - 1 delegate per site with more than 30 members, estimate 70 delegates
  5. RMTU - determined by previous conference so unknown
  6. MUNZ - 1 – 4 delegate per branch (13 branches), estimate 30 delegates

The power of those 45 EMPU delegates is considerable. That is a small enough number for them to meet collectively and decide who to support. Of course it is a secret ballot and they can vote however they like, but as loyal delegates they will vote for what is best for the EPMU. Those 45 EPMU delegates will be worth 8.3% of the total vote. I doubt they will be splitting 50/50 or even 60/40. I predict 80/20 or 90/10 or more.

Each EMPU delegate will get approximately 46 times as much of a say as a normal Labour Party member (if they are a member, they get an additional vote in that section also). A MWU delegate will get 16 times the say of a normal Labour Party member.

The 170 or so delegates from the EPMU, MWU and DWU are worth 13.3% of the total vote.  It is hard to see any leadership candidate winning without them. Those lucky 170 delegates will be getting lots of phone calls as they play a major part in picking the person who could be the next Prime Minister.

UPDATE: Very happy for any union to provide the exact number of voting delegates they have, so I can update the post.

Tags: ,

38 Responses to “How the Labour leadership vote will work”

  1. Paulus (2,492 comments) says:

    Don’t suppose there will be any legitimate Audit !

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    It makes your head hurt. How do people dream up such complexity – and, in the end, for bugger all?

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. YesWeDid (1,029 comments) says:

    I’d say it is a bit more than ‘bugger all’ BeaB, given that there only needs to be a couple of percent change in the polls to have a Labour-Green government in 2014 then these people are potentially voting for our next Prime Minister.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. hannity (151 comments) says:

    Since you’re doing the numbers , just for comparison.
    How much say, would the average National Party member get?

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    What I mean by ‘bugger all’ is that if caucus alone vote or if Uncle Tom Cobley and all join in, the result is likely to be exactly the same – Cunliffe/Robertson in some deeply unattractive pairing. Just listen to their sea of blah.

    Jones is the only one with an authentic voice.

    I am still waiting for a Labour woman to put her name in. What is wrong with them? Are they only able to operate under a quota?

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. gravedodger (1,509 comments) says:

    The outcome can place a leader over the caucus, more than 50% don’t want.

    Now that is a great foundation for a united team Labour going forward.

    It is simple who the union 20% will want and why.
    It is also relatively simple who might eventually gain a plurality from the factionalised caucus.
    Toss in the 40% weighting from members many of whom will have limited knowledge of the candidate and what they really stand for and the dogs breakfast can begin to unravel from the announcement.
    That ignores the very strong motovation, unrequited, of those who desire the Man Ban to be in place.

    Democracy, bollocks, Fenton, Little, get three votes, closing theme of “Animal Farm” clearly some are more equal than others.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. dime (9,364 comments) says:

    I know its been said before.. but imagine if big business had 20% of the national party leadership vote.

    How would this go down with our hacks in the media:

    Telecom 8.3% of total vote
    The Warehouse 5.0% of total vote
    Fletcher Building 3.4% of total vote
    EBOS 1.6% of total vote
    Sky City 1.1% of total vote
    Resturant Brands 0.6% of total vote

    Vote: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. alloytoo (430 comments) says:

    “The outcome can place a leader over the caucus, more than 50% don’t want.”

    exactly gravedigger.

    Allowing other parties, especially National to laugh at the decision and say “That’s ‘labour’ democracy”

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Mark (1,358 comments) says:

    It is a worrying concept that the labour leadership is so overtly beholden to the unions. It is a political anachronism that is long overdue for change.

    With such a shambles of a selection process it can only be very helpful to John Key and National

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. jp_1983 (184 comments) says:

    hannity (126) Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 3:12 pm
    Since you’re doing the numbers , just for comparison.
    How much say, would the average National Party member get?
    ————————————————————————

    As a paid up National Party member for at least the last decade and will continue to be this is my thoughts on the matter of electing the leader.
    “I have full confidence in the caucus to elect the leader of the party I support.”

    On a different note, what sort of constitutional crisis would we have if Labour was in Government and there was a leadership spill or a death of a Prime Minister, under these rules we would be effectively leaderless for a month or so while the party was having a lovein deciding who would be the leader.

    Also so much for it being a fair election. “3 Votes for some, 1 Vote for others.”

    The party that espouses equality certainly doesn’t thing that it applies to them..

    Vote: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Psycho Milt (2,250 comments) says:

    It is a feature of the working class that its political influence is transparent, codified and subject to democratic votes. The ruling class tends to favour an environment of obscurity and lack of oversight for its own political influence. Which of the two approaches is more threatening is contingent on one’s own class interests, of course.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. James Stephenson (2,008 comments) says:

    Since you’re doing the numbers , just for comparison.
    How much say, would the average National Party member get?

    Well the local organisations get a much much greater say in selection of their parliamentary candidates…

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Where do PSA and teachers’ unions fit? Do they pretend to be independent (not affiliated)?

    If so, Robertson is going to struggle to get second.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Skttrbrain (25 comments) says:

    To clarify, is the argument:

    Labour allows disproportionate voting across caucus, party and union members for a new leader, and this isn’t good; vs.

    National caucus votes proportionately for new leader, without party members or any affiliated organisations, and this is better?

    Also, I don’t have a problem with making National’s business interests clearer by allowing block voting, as a proportion of the National Party vote for leader, through the Boards of the organisations that fund/back the party.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. F E Smith (3,301 comments) says:

    It is a feature of the working class that its political influence is transparent, codified and subject to democratic votes.

    If Labour is a party of the working class, why are there so few members of the working class representing it in Parliament?  Most Labour MPs appear to be university educated teachers, university educated white collar professionals, or university educated Union officials. 

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. kiwi in america (2,432 comments) says:

    “It is a feature of the working class that its political influence is transparent, codified and subject to democratic votes” – yeah Psycho Milt like all the deleting of posts and banning of conservatives at The Standard and Frogblog – very transparent.

    Let’s test Labour’s transparency. What’s the bet we’ll never know the caucus/party/union split because if we do, it will be plainly obvious the candidate who wooed the unions won the vote.

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Psycho Milt (2,250 comments) says:

    If Labour is a party of the working class, why are there so few members of the working class representing it in Parliament?

    Labour isn’t a party of the working class. However, it’s a party representatives of the working class have reached agreements with that allow them to exert political influence on that party – in a transparent, codified and democratic manner.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. kiwi in america (2,432 comments) says:

    Psycho

    Are you a Labour Party member? If the influence of the unions on the party is as transparent as you say it is, ask Moira Coatsworth to transparently reveal how the various parts of the electoral college have voted when the results are announced. The left talk the good democratic talk, lets see them walk the walk.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. F E Smith (3,301 comments) says:

    it’s a party representatives of the working class have reached agreements with

    Do you mean the unions?

     

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Simon (680 comments) says:

    Belonging to a union. How degrading.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Fisiani (944 comments) says:

    Every time I see Cunliffe a little tune plays in my head http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYKWch_MNY0

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    *** ?

    Also, I don’t have a problem with making National’s business interests clearer by allowing block voting, as a proportion of the National Party vote for leader, through the Boards of the organisations that fund/back the party. ****

    Oh horseshit.

    It so happens that I am National Party Electorate Executive Member (never hid that) and I know that there is absolutely no block voting by any group. Moreover, there is no socio-economic barrier of any kind (two Executive members in our electorate executive happen to be farmers, two builders, one a Minister of religion,. one a printer, one a motelier, one an accountant…and so on). We raise our own monies, and contribute to the National election chest in addition to meeting all electorate expenses. Unions do not contribute, but I am sure our Electorate treasurer would never decline a donation. He would decline union membership since bodies corporate cannot be members.

    So, Psycho et al….. time to kill off the union corporate bludgers. But they wont allow that. They will just persist with the great lie – aided and abbeted by a left wing MSM.

    In passing, we have a meeting this evening. Any union wishing to donate, please email Flipper via DPF.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    Further to the above:

    1. Three years ago there was a silly attempt by the NP National Board to have a greater say in MP list selection. The Regional Conferences told the proponents to piss off. They had to, and have not tried again..

    2. The selection of candidates is totally democratic, with every elected Electorate Executive member having a vote to select their candidate. No Regional or HO input. No union or corporate voters parachuted in for the vote.

    Compare that with labour :)

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. KapitiCoast (114 comments) says:

    I would find it very unusual and indeed very ‘non transparent’ if Labour do not divulge the voting split for Cunliffe/Robertson (no matter who ‘wins’ the leadership)…to NOT divulge this makes a mockery of the system they put in for all interested parties to have a vote. After all If one section votes for Robertson (Caucus), another votes for Cunliffe (paid up members) and when either is elected after the last votes (union)…only human nature and curiosity for one of the 3 to ask…We voted Robertson (or Cunliffe) and the other is elected…what was the voting split!…Labour KNOW this will be impossible to keep secret, if they try to leaks will ensue, so I have no doubt the figures will be released on who voted for who (and the split ratio/%age) for each of the 3x voting blocs.

    Anything else will open them up to ridicule from the right, suspicion from the left and MSM sniffing for a story.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. leftyliberal (642 comments) says:

    “The selection of candidates is totally democratic, with every elected Electorate Executive member having a vote to select their candidate.”

    Not exactly “totally democratic”, rather a representative democracy, as only Electorate executives get a say, not Joe Sixpack National party members. i.e. just as democratic as the union votes for Labour.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. KapitiCoast (114 comments) says:

    Actually, come to think of it…I believe Labour will know this will look bad and I suspect Robinson will ‘do a deal’ where Cunliffe will win and he will be deputy….that way they are telling the bloc’s what they want and the numbers will show Cunliffe with a ‘mandate’ to be leader…..but it’s Labour we are talking about and will most likely not see it this way….either way Mallard/Goff/King are fucked and this is a good thing, Would love to see Mallard going feral on his own party :) :)

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    Lefty says” **Not exactly “totally democratic”, rather a representative democracy, as only Electorate executives get a say, not Joe Sixpack National party members. i.e. just as democratic as the union votes for Labour.***

    Talking shit as per normal lefty. If you equate our system with yours you are in dipshit land, which come to think of it, is self evident.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. David Garrett (6,309 comments) says:

    FES: Whaddya mean “so few of the working class” in the Labour caucus? You name ONE! Hide and I between us had more “working class” experience that the whole sorry lot of them put together! I held a structural welding ticket once, 100 years ago…I am prepared to bet $ none of the current Labour caucus ever did…

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Rightandleft (627 comments) says:

    bhudson,

    Yes the teachers’ unions are unaffiliated. In fact in the PPTA there would be fierce resistance among members to any suggestion of supporting one party over another or donating any money to a party’s campaign. Gerry Brownlee was a PPTA member and even ran for union office.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Dave Mann (1,168 comments) says:

    Hey, what kind of game is Cun(?)liffe playing now? He has made an IDENTICALLY WORDED announcement to the one that Chubby Rainbow did the previous day! Geez….. the Labour Party are really original! twerps.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. Psycho Milt (2,250 comments) says:

    Do you mean the unions?

    No, I mean the Order of the Garter.

    Are you a Labour Party member?

    You must be fucking joking. I don’t think my union’s affiliated with them (not that my union is a working-class one).

    If the influence of the unions on the party is as transparent as you say it is, ask Moira Coatsworth to…

    Well, yes, one thing that’s become clear is that it doesn’t matter if you make political influence transparent, codified and democratic, there’ll still be a bunch of arseholes jeering that it doesn’t go far enough. Tell you what – once the ruling class has taken a few steps towards transparency in its own political influence, we’ll talk further.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. David Garrett (6,309 comments) says:

    Psycho: It must be tragic to have got that B. Ed. and still feel so inferior…”the ruling class” FFS…what were they doing while Labour ran the show for nine years? On vacation?

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    I don’t know why people are responding with shock as to the union’s influence in the leadership vote. The unions have always had the power to decide the Labour leadership.

    Even when it was a caucus-only vote – who had the power to determine candidate selection and therefore caucus? Why the unions of course.

    Anyone forgotten the busing of union votes into Mana so that Goff’s boy Fa’afoi could be safely parachuted in?

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. F E Smith (3,301 comments) says:

    Do you mean the unions?

    No, I mean the Order of the Garter.

    I ask because you said something about “representatives of the working class” and then go on to confirm that what you actually mean are unions.  Those are not the same thing. 

    Unions are not representatives of the working class, they are representatives of their members. 

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. Psycho Milt (2,250 comments) says:

    Psycho: It must be tragic to have got that B. Ed. and still feel so inferior…

    David: class isn’t a matter of inferiority/superiority. What I find tragic is that you consider yourself in a position to subject others to ridicule – it’s like watching the Elephant Man trying to tell people they’re ugly.

    Unions are not representatives of the working class, they are representatives of their members.

    Maybe they didn’t cover this at law school, but social classes don’t have a membership fee and an official representative organisation. Unions are as organised as this particular social class gets. If you personally find that level of organisation not particularly representative, so what? It’s not what you think that counts.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. mikemikemikemike (301 comments) says:

    I’m lost – how is Nationals system a better representation of democracy that Labours? A leader is selected on a members behalf by someone else (Unless I’m mistaken?) Which, it appears is more or less how Labour are doing it.

    They might have differing ways on getting there, but I really don’t see how the end result is any different…..is it?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. F E Smith (3,301 comments) says:

    Unions are as organised as this particular social class gets.

    So medical doctors, nurses, and public servants are all a part of the working class now?  Or are only some unions representative of this poorly organised group?  

    Hold on, perhaps they need a community organiser!!!  Someone put a call through to Obama…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    Further to DPF’s summary of how the vote works – it’s even more complex.

    MPs can vote twice – as an MP and as a member. And it’s possible for some members to vote three times, if they are in more than one union.

    Strangely democratic – Labour’s voting rules

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.