Four things to know about constituency party endorsements

Recently, the nominations of constituency Labour parties have attracted a great deal of attention. That’s probably because Jeremy Corbyn was until recently in second place in the tally of constituency nominations, and "radical firebrand could become Labour party leader" is a good headline.

I thought it was a good idea to repeat a previous exercise I had carried out with MPs’ nominations to see the effect that CLP nominations have on Labour party members’ voting behaviour. Here are four things you should know about constituency party nominations in the 2010 Labour leadership election.

1. Constituency nominations generally followed MPs’ nominations

This table shows MP nominations (down the rows) against CLP nominations (across the columns). I’ve also added the “conversion rate” in the last column.

CLP nominates…
Abbott Balls Burnham Miliband, David Miliband, Ed Conversion (%)
MP nominates… Abbott 3 0 0 3 1 0.43
Balls 0 12 2 3 5 0.55
Burnham 0 0 13 3 1 0.76
Miliband, David 1 0 3 61 12 0.79
Miliband, Ed 1 1 3 9 42 0.75

On average, just over seven in ten CLPs with a sitting Labour MP followed the nomination of that MP.

2. CLPs without sitting Labour MPs were more likely to nominate left-wing candidates

This graph shows the number of nominations picked up by different candidates according to whether or not the CLP had a sitting Labour MP.


The graph shows that Abbott and Ed Miliband did better (both in terms of counts and in terms of proportions) amongst CLPs with no sitting Labour member. Conversely, Ed Balls’ campaign looks as though it’s the ultimate insiders’ campaign.

3. Many local members did not follow their CLPs’ nomination…

Bluntly: lots of MPs and CLPs nominated candidates who had no chance of winning. Again, this table shows CLP nominations down the rows against the candidate that received most first preferences (across the columns). Once again, I’ve put the conversion ratio.

Most first-preferences go to…
Abbott Balls Burnham Miliband, David Miliband, Ed Conversion (%)
CLP nominates… Abbott 0 0 0 18 1 0.00
Balls 0 2 0 13 2 0.12
Burnham 0 0 7 34 2 0.16
Miliband, David 0 0 0 161 3 0.98
Miliband, Ed 0 0 0 116 34 0.23

4. … but nomination still had an effect

Of course, nomination by a CLP might not cause you to receive the most first preference votes, but it may still help you.

This figure shows the average share of first preference votes according to whether or not the candidate was nominated by the CLP.


What effect in 2015?

These figures should suggest that we take information from CLP nominations with a pinch of salt. When all of the CLP nominations are available, they are unlikely to look very different from MPs’ nominations. Those nominations will, in some cases, be ineffective. It’s tempting to interpret Jeremy Corbyn as the Diane Abbott of the 2015 leadership election. I think that would be wrong. But I think it is reasonable to suggest that Corbyn’s eventual share of the vote will be lower than his current share of constituency nominations.

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