The moment we will know who won Labour's leadership contest

The faces of the candidates and their aides may reveal all

We know that the result of the Labour leadership contest will be announced between 4pm and 5pm on Saturday 25 September, at the start of the party's annual conference in Manchester. We do not, however, know much more than that. The Labour party is being understandably vague about the details of who will know what when, and how exactly the announcement will be made. The party's press office indicates it will be putting out a fuller statement in due course. Privately, leadership candidates -- including those most likely to win -- are confused and apparently in the dark about the details. At least they say they are. Most people expect them to be sitting in a row, with other politicians and the media, at Manchester Central, in an Oscars-style ceremony as they announcement is made, probably by the party's General Secretary, Ray Collins.

However, I'm told that around ten minutes before the announcement is made public the contenders will be ushered into a room backstage to be told first. I'm told, too, that they are each allowed a "plus one" to accompany them, quickly to think through the political implications of the result and practice the message each candidate -- including the winner -- will have to deliver to the party and the public (all candidates will have to have prepared a speech). I gather that Ed Miliband has chosen his aide Stuart Wood, the former adviser to Gordon Brown, to be his plus one. David Miliband will be accompanied by his long-standing aide, Madlin Sadler. The other camps are remaining tight-lipped. What is clear however, is that it will be worth looking out for the faces of not just the candidates but their aides.

Meanwhile, a senior Labour source declines to comment on rumours that Gordon Brown wants to be involved in the announcement, passing on the Labour torch as Tony Blair did to him in 2007. But the source does confirm that, "Gordon will be involved in the conference in some way. The party will be given the opportunity to thank him for his years as prime minister and his many years as chancellor."

UPDATE: a Labour source has called back to confirm that the candidates will hear the result before the official announcement, with plus ones.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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