Want to know who the most liberal Labour leadership contender is?

by Stephen Tall on June 10, 2010

Before the election, Lib Dem Voice launched How Authoritarian is your MP?, a website which ranked how authoritarian – or liberal – were MPs in the 2005-10 parliament based on their voting record on 10 key issues. These ranged from ID cards to detention without trial to freedom of speech.

The five candidates for the Labour leadership are now official – so we can now see how their voting record compares, and name the contender who is, officially, the most liberal potential Labour leader …

(NB: if you click on their name you can see how their voting record stacks up).

1. Diane Abbott.

36% authoritarian, 64% liberal.


2. David Miliband.

62% authoritarian, 38% liberal.

3. Ed Miliband.

76% authoritarian, 24% liberal.

=5. Andy Burnham.

83% authoritarian, 17% liberal.

=5. Ed Balls.

83% authoritarian, 17% liberal.

Diane Abbott is the most liberal of the Labour leadership candidates – as a backbencher, of course, she did have the freedom the other candidates lacked to vote against the party whip more regularly. Nonetheless, there were plenty of other Labour backbenchers who sat willingly voted for their Government’s increasingly authoritarian measures – and in an inner-city constituency such as Diane’s it might have been the easy choice, too. So kudos to her for sticking by her principles.

What’s perhaps surprising is that there is quite a difference between the five candidates. Diane is the only who emerges as more liberal than she is authoritarian. But David Miliband, and to a lesser extent his brother Ed, are markedly less authoritarian than their fellow male rivals, Andy Burnham and Ed Balls. (Though in David’s case at least this might be the result of his absence from key votes while serving as Froeign Secretary).