Why publishing the Labour leadership result will help, not hurt, Corbyn

The Labour leadership candidate is expected to win among all three sections - his mandate will be even greater. 

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When Ed Miliband was elected Labour leader in 2010, the party published a full breakdown of the result. Though admirably transparent, this act revealed that he owed his position to the support of affiliated trade unionists - party members and MPs had not voted for him (preferring his brother). This incomplete victory dogged Miliband throughout his leadership, being used against him by internal and external foes. 

To avoid its new leader incurring this fate, Labour ruled that the result would not this time be published. But last night, the party's procedures committee backtracked and agreed to release a breakdown of how party members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters voted. It was allies of Jeremy Corbyn who were originally most hostile to the result's publication, and his opponents who were most in favour. Some of the latter hoped that a result which showed that the left-winger had failed to win among all sections would weaken his legitimacy and make it easier to subsequently oust him. The irony is that far from weakening Corbyn's position, the breakdown will now likely strengthen it. The expectation of most in Labour is that he will win in all three sections - his mandate will be even clearer. 

One benefit of the result being published, as LabourList's Conor Pope notes, is that it will be possible to determine who would have won under the old leadership system, which saw MPs, party members and affiliated supporters each granted a third of the vote. The likely would-be victor is Andy Burnham, who enjoys the greatest support at Westminster. But when I asked Burnham whether he regretted the introduction of the new system, he insisted not. 

"This in the end should be a matter for the ordinary members, I think that is a positive change since the last leadership election. I remember feeling very aggrieved last time that Westminster could almost stitch-up the contest. This new set of rules, to Ed’s credit, puts power in the hands of the members and I’ve really sensed how it’s given the members a much stronger voice in the contest and I think that’s the right thing ...The role of Westminster in this contest has been diminished and I think that’s a good thing."

George Eaton is senior online editor of the New Statesman.

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