Advertisement

British Politics

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 286–316 | Cite as

‘O, brother, where art thou?’ The Labour Party leadership election of 2010

  • Peter Dorey
  • Andrew Denham
Original Article

Abstract

This article examines the 2010 Labour leadership contest, seeking to explain why Ed Miliband narrowly defeated his brother, and erstwhile favourite, David. The article places this contest in the context of previous Labour leadership contests, and also the historical development of the often controversial electoral college which, on this occasion, meant that the first preferences of the Party's parliamentarians were outweighed by the votes of affiliated bodies, most notably the trade unions. Crucially, though, we argue that while undeniably important, the role of the trade unions in ensuring Ed Miliband's victory has been somewhat exaggerated by his political and media opponents. His success over his brother was also due to the fact that he attracted enough second preference votes cast by MPs/ Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and members of the constituency Labour parties (CLPs) to increase his share of overall support in the electoral college. David Miliband remained more popular than his brother among Labour parliamentarians and CLPs, but Ed Miliband reduced his brother's lead sufficiently over four rounds to ensure that when added to his share of the votes of individual trade union levy-payers, he secured a narrow victory over David Miliband. The votes of the latter were crucial to Ed Miliband, and ultimately decisive, but would still not have been sufficient to secure victory had he not also increased his support, via second preference votes, among Labour MPs/MEPs and CLP members.

Keywords

Labour Party leadership elections David Miliband Ed Miliband electoral college New Labour 

References

  1. Abbott, D. (2010) ‘Diane Abbott’ in The Fabian Society. The Labour Leadership: How Important is it that the Party has a Distinctive Ideology?, Fabian online pamphlet, http://www.fabians.org.uk/publications.
  2. Alderman, K. and Carter, N. (1993) The Labour Party leadership and deputy leadership elections of 1992. Parliamentary Affairs 46 (1): 49–65.Google Scholar
  3. Alderman, K. and Carter, N. (1994) The Labour Party and the trade unions: Loosening the ties. Parliamentary Affairs 47 (3): 321–337.Google Scholar
  4. Alderman, K. and Carter, N. (1995) The Labour Party leadership and deputy leadership elections of 1994. Parliamentary Affairs 48 (3): 438–455.Google Scholar
  5. Balls, E. (2010) We were wrong to allow so many eastern Europeans into Britain. The Observer 6 June.Google Scholar
  6. Blair, T. (2010) Tony Blair: A Journey. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  7. Burnham, A. (2010) ‘Andy Burnham’ in The Fabian Society. The Labour Leadership: How Important is it that the Party has a Distinctive Ideology? Fabian online pamphlet, http://www.fabians.org.uk/publications.
  8. Cruddas, J. (2010) Why I’m backing David Miliband; interview with Jason Cowley. The New Statesman 26 August.Google Scholar
  9. Denham, A. and Dorey, P. (2007) Just the ticket? The Labour Party's deputy leadership election of 2007. Political Quarterly 78 (4): 527–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Drucker, H.M. (1976) Leadership selection in the Labour Party. Parliamentary Affairs 29 (4): 378–395.Google Scholar
  11. Drucker, H.M. (1979) Doctrine and Ethos in the Labour Party. London: George Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  12. Drucker, H.M. (1981) Changes in the Labour Party leadership. Parliamentary Affairs 34 (4): 369–391.Google Scholar
  13. Drucker, H.M. (1984) Intra-party democracy in action: The election of leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1983. Parliamentary Affairs 37 (3): 283–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Golant, W. (1970) The emergence of C.R. Attlee as leader of the parliamentary Labour Party in 1935. The Historical Journal XIII (2): 318–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gould, P. (1999) The Unfinished Revolution: How the Modernisers Saved the Labour Party. London: Abacus.Google Scholar
  16. Heppell, T. (2010a) Choosing the Labour Leader: Labour Party Leadership Elections from Wilson to Brown. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  17. Heppell, T. (2010b) Labour leadership elections from Wilson to Brown: Ideological factions and succession planning strategies. Representation 46 (1): 69–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heppell, T. (2010c) The Labour Party leadership election of 1963: Explaining the unexpected election of Harold Wilson. Contemporary British History 24 (2): 151–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heppell, T. and Crines, A. (2011) How Michael Foot won the Labour Party leadership. The Political Quarterly 82 (1): 81–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heppell, T., Crines, A. and Nicholls, R. (2010) Ideological alignments within the Parliamentary Labour Party and the leadership election of 1976. British Politics 5 (1): 65–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kellner, P. (2010) How he won. The Sunday Times 26 September.Google Scholar
  22. Kogan, D. and Kogan, M. (1982) The Battle for the Labour Party. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  23. Miliband, D. (2010a) The Keir Hardie Lecture. Mountain Ash, Cynon Valley, 9 July. http://www.davidmiliband.net/2010/07/09/keir-hardie-lecture-2010/.
  24. Miliband, D. (2010b) ‘David Miliband’ in The Fabian Society. The Labour Leadership: How Important is it that the Party has a Distinctive Ideology? Fabian online pamphlet, http://www.fabians.org.uk/publications.
  25. Miliband, E. (2010) ‘I’ll make capitalism work for the people. The Observer 29 August.Google Scholar
  26. Oakeshott, I. (2010) Unions to demand payback for victory. The Sunday Times 26 September.Google Scholar
  27. Pelling, H. (1991) A Short History of the Labour Party. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Punnett, R.M. (1992) Selecting the Party Leader: Britain in Comparative Perspective. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Quinn, T. (2004) Electing the leader: The British Labour Party's electoral college. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6 (3): 333–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Quinn, T. (2005) Leasehold or freehold? Leader-eviction rules in the British Conservative and Labour Parties. Political Studies 53 (4): 793–815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rawnsley, A. and Helm, T. (2010) David Miliband warns that re-creating New Labour is not the way back. The Observer 16 May.Google Scholar
  32. Seyd, P. (1987) The Rise and Fall of the Labour Left. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sjoblom, G. (1968) Party Strategies in a Multi-Party System. Lund, Sweden: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  34. Stark, L.P. (1996) Choosing a Leader: Party Leadership Contests in Britain from Macmillan to Blair. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Treneman, A. (2010) He may look like a geek poster boy, but he believes he is the party's only hope. The Times 4 September.Google Scholar
  36. Watson, R. (2010) Ed Balls says he's the one to lead New Labour to victory. The Sunday Times 5 June.Google Scholar
  37. Webb, P.D. (1995) Reforming the Labour Party-Trade union link: An assessment. In: D. Broughton, D.M. Farrell, D. Denver and C. Rallings (eds.) British Elections and Parties Yearbook 1994. London: Frank Cass, pp. 1–14.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Dorey
    • 1
  • Andrew Denham
    • 2
  1. 1.Cardiff School of European Studies, Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.School of Politics and International Relations, University of NottinghamNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations