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How will the Labour leadership election work?

Labour is looking to elect a new leader. What’s the process?

Who is running to be leader?

Liz Kendall has declared, David Lammy has said he could be interested, Yvette Cooper's aides have secured a domain name for her campaign site, but all the other likely candidates have merely made interventions so far, stopping short of declaring their intentions to run. Read up on the runners and riders here. Tom Watson will be running for deputy leader.

What will happen in the meantime?

Harriet Harman, deputy Labour leader, will be acting leader. But she will resign her position as deputy leader once a successor to that position is chosen.

And how does it work?

Using a system called One Member One Vote (OMOV). This means candidates will be elected by members and registered and affiliated supporters – each has a maximum of one vote.

It didn’t used to be like that, did it?

No, it used to be a different system, with three electoral colleges (party members, MPs and MEPs, and trade unions and affiliated societies) being given equal weight. So now, if you’re a Labour-affiliated trade union member and you want to vote, you have to register as a Labour supporter (rather than automatically being affiliated).

When did it change?

It was part of the Collins Report’s proposals for party reform in 2014.

Why did it change?

Partly the Falkirk row, when the union Unite was accused of rigging the selection, and partly a long-term need to reform Labour’s complex relationship with the trade unions. It’s somewhat ironic that it was Ed Miliband who pushed OMOV through– he benefited from the union vote during the 2010 leadership election.

So what do candidates need to be able to stand?

They need to be nominated by at least 15 per cent of Labour MPs. Looking at the current number of seats Labour has (232), that’s 35 MPs. That means a maximum of six candidates can run.

And what’s the voting system?

Alternative vote (AV), like previous Labour leadership elections.

What about choosing a deputy?

The same rules apply.

Does it have to be a female/male duo for leader and deputy?


How long will it take?

The new system outlined in the Collins Report maps out a quicker leadership election than took place in 2010, but Labour’s National Executive Committee has now voted on a timetable. Here it is:

Friday 15 May                             Election Period Opens
Monday 8 June                            PLP Nomination Hustings for Leader
Tuesday 9 June                           PLP Nomination Hustings for Deputy Leader
Tuesday 9 June                           PLP Nominations Open
12 noon Monday 15 June              PLP Nominations (Leader) Close
12 noon Wednesday 17 June         PLP Nominations (Deputy Leader) Close
Wednesday 17 June                     Hustings period opens
12 noon Friday 31 July                 Supporting Nominations Close
12 noon Wednesday 12 August      Last date to join as member, affiliated supporter, or registered supporter
Friday 14 August                         Ballot mailing despatched
12 noon Thursday 10 September   Ballot closes
Saturday 12 September                       Special conference to announce result

Many party figures think it should take its time to ensure it chooses the right leader. National Executive Committee member Jon Ashworth MP has been pushing for a long leadership election, with candidates making speeches to party conference ahead of the ballot, for a leadership contest “that tests all contenders”. Alastair Campbell has even been advocating Harman staying acting leader “for a year or so” to allow an in-depth debate about the future. And 

Others warn that it was a lengthy leadership race last time that allowed the Tories to capture the narrative on the economy (the line that Labour “crashed the car”), because there was no leader in place to counter it, and the party was distracted by the leadership contest.

Who would a swifter race have benefited?

Probably Andy Burnham. Popular with the members and the unions, a well-known figure, and an impressive performer. Other candidates, perhaps those from a fresher generation of Labour politicians (like Liz Kendall, Tristram Hunt or Chuka Umunna), would need a longer time to build a support base and become familiar faces.

What happens next?

MPs will begin endorsing candidates, and each candidate will set out their stall for the leadership.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Ann Summers can’t claim to empower women when it is teaming up with Pornhub

This is not about mutual sexual fulfilment, it is about eroticising women’s pain. 

I can’t understand why erotic retailers like Ann Summers have persisted into the twenty-first century. The store claims to be “sexy, daring, provocative and naughty”, and somewhat predictably positions itself as empowering for women. As a feminist of the unfashionable type, I can’t help but be suspicious of any form of sexual liberation that can be bought or sold.

And yet, I’d never really thought of Ann Summers as being particularly threatening to the rights of women, more just a faintly depressing reflection of heteronormativity. This changed when I saw they’d teamed-up with Pornhub. The website is reputedly the largest purveyor of online pornography in the world. Pornhub guidelines state that content flagged as  “illegal, unlawful, harassing, harmful, offensive” will be removed. Nonetheless, the site still contains simulated incest and rape with some of the more easily published film titles including “Exploited Teen Asia” (236 million views) and “How to sexually harass your secretary properly” (10.5 million views.)  With campaigns such as #metoo and #timesup are sweeping social media, it seems bizarre that a high street brand would not consider Pornhub merchandise as toxic.

Society is still bound by taboos: our hyper-sexual society glossy magazines like Teen Vogue offer girls tips on receiving anal sex, while advice on pleasuring women is notably rare. As an unabashed wanker, I find it baffling that in the year that largely female audiences queued to watch Fifty Shades Darker, a survey revealed that 20 per cent of U.S. women have never masturbated. It is an odd truth that in our apparently open society, any criticism of pornography or sexual practices is shut down as illiberal. 

Guardian-reading men who wring their hands about Fair Trade coffee will passionately defend the right to view women being abused on film. Conservative men who make claims about morals and marriage are aroused by images that in any other setting would be considered abuse. Pornography is not only misogynistic, but the tropes and language are often also racist. In what other context would racist slurs and scenarios be acceptable?

I have no doubt that some reading this will be burning to point out that feminist pornography exists. In name of course it does, but then again, Theresa May calls herself a feminist when it suits. Whether you believe feminist pornography is either possible or desirable, it is worth remembering that what is marketed as such comprises a tiny portion of the market. This won’t make me popular, but it is worth remembering feminism is not about celebrating every choice a woman makes – it is about analysing the social context in which choices are made. Furthermore, that some women also watch porn is evidence of how patriarchy shapes our desire, not that pornography is woman-friendly.  

Ann Summers parts the net curtains of nation’s suburban bedrooms and offers a glimpse into our peccadillos and preferences. That a mainstream high street retailer blithely offers guidance on hair-pulling, whipping and clamps, as well as a full range of Pornhub branded products is disturbing. This is not about women’s empowerment or mutual sexual fulfilment, it is about eroticising women’s pain. 

We are living in a world saturated with images of women and girls suffering; to pretend that there is no connection between pornography and the four-in-ten teenage girls who say they have been coerced into sex acts is naive in the extreme. For too long the state claimed that violence in the home was a domestic matter. Women and girls are now facing an epidemic of sexual violence behind bedroom doors and it is not a private matter. We need to ask ourselves which matters more: the sexual rights of men or the human rights of women?