Confessions of a Labour entryist: how I’m voting in the leadership election

by Stephen Tall on August 20, 2015

A month ago today, I registered as a Labour supporter, paid my £3, and was swiftly thanked by the party’s general secretary.

I was partly driven by curiosity — kind of a mystery shopper excursion to see, having just witnessed the LibDems’ leadership election, how Labour would handle theirs.

I was partly driven by nostalgia — I joined Labour in 1994, voted for Tony Blair (and, God help me, John Prescott) in the leadership contest, before quitting in 1999 as I realised New Labour was just as centralising as Old Labour (though a lot more effective).

And I was mostly driven by self-interest — competition is important, and, with the LibDems reduced to just 8 MPs, we desperately need an opposition party that can make the Tories sweat.

Labour friends had warned me to expect a deluge of email/text/post spam from candidates. No such bad luck. Over the past 30 days, I’ve received just 10 emails:

Leadership contest:
Andy Burnham = 3
Yvette Cooper = 1

Deputy leadership contest:
Tom Watson = 4
Stella Creasy = 2

Through the post, I’ve received one leaflet each from Jeremy Corbyn, Yvette Cooper and Tom Watson. I’ve heard nothing from two of the leadership candidates nor three of the deputy leadership candidates. I’ve had no text messages at all (perhaps I opted out when I joined, I can’t recall).

I was ambivalent whether I would actually exercise my vote, but decided that, if I did, it wouldn’t be to troll Labour by choosing Jeremy Corbyn: I would vote for the candidate the other parties would least like to face.

Assuming, that is, Labour gave me a vote. After all, the party assures us they have “rigorous due diligence” processes in place to weed out infiltrators from other parties. Having stood for election against Labour a few weeks ago, I half-assumed they’d (quite legitimately) disenfranchise me.

But then yesterday morning I received my online ballot paper:

lab ballot

Here’s how I would rank the leadership candidates in order of preference according to my stated objective: voting for the candidate the other parties would least like to face.

1 – Liz Kendall

Yes, her campaign’s disappointed after a strong start: her inexperience has been shown up as the contest has worn on. And no, I don’t agree with her stance on the welfare bill: the notion of the state penalising children by cutting off social security at an arbitrary number it disapproves of is repugnant to me. But she’s asking the hard questions of her party it needs to find answers to, and she’s the only one doing so. That takes guts and it deserves credit. And she’s offered a localising manifesto Labour desperately needs. As she won’t win anyway, all Blairites and Labour moderates should (in my view) cast their first preference for Liz so that her agenda can’t be wholly ignored by Jeremy Corbyn’s Bennite putsch.

2 – Yvette Cooper

No spark, no fresh ideas, no vision. But she’s undoubtedly competent and is the best Labour can hope for. Sensible Tories know Yvette’s the one to watch, especially as Cameron’s not at his best when facing a woman.

3 – Andy Burnham

His campaign has been so risible, he doesn’t deserve even a third preference. But… Anyone But Corbyn. At least Labour will live to fight another day with Burnham as leader.

So there you have it: Liz, Yvette, Andy. You know it makes sense.

However, I’m not going to exercise my vote. No matter that I’d be doing it in Labour’s own best interests, this is their genuine supporters’ look-out. I’ve no right to interfere just because I think I know better.

And yes, that is a heavy-handed parting shot directed at that party’s centralisers.


I get what your saying and even if you are right, as your list may be the best at countering the tories, there are certain issues that can’t be ignored, 1) new labour lost Scotland, 2) the number of people voting since ’97 has been in decline, in my opinion due to the middle right politics all our three UK wide parties have. 3) I have never seen as much interest in labour as corbyn has generated since ’97.

So you are probably right your list might be best for taking on the tories on their own turf, but do people vote for a party just because it will be a good PR machine that the tories find hard to attack? The way actual people are moving would suggest otherwise as we have had decades of that kind of politics and Labour is on the point of collapse.

The SNP have done well in scotland as they appear to offer a real alternate path, but their voters are more social democrat than they are.. I think their is a big voter base for Corbyn IE the people who have stopped voting, because they really offer watered down versions of each other.

by Jim A on August 20, 2015 at 1:51 pm. Reply #

Jim A
Comparing Corbyn to the SNP a fatal flaw in any argument. The SNP are aggressively Anti-English which picks up both left and right voters. By and large they pursue a New Labour fiscal policy with non-progessive sops like tuition fees to the middle classes.
As for the “shy socialist” angle, only 32% of non voters said they’d potentially vote Labour against 33% who said they’d vote Tory/UKIP. The biggest reason given for not voting is because it won’t make any difference, rather than any ideological bent. That’s the electoral system not a burning desire for revolution.
Most of the “noise” about Corbyn has come from SWP and Green supporters thinking this is their time in the sun. It isn’t.

by Was on August 20, 2015 at 3:15 pm. Reply #

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by Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #428 on August 23, 2015 at 7:01 pm. Reply #

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