Elect Labour’s NEC (and the Shadow Cabinet?) by STV

STV Action is neutral on party politics, but the Opposition (i.e. alternative Government) needs to be strong.

Labour’s first priority now must be to heal the divisions after the leadership election. That will need understanding and tolerance from both sides but procedures can also help or they can hinder.

It is essential for the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to represent all shades of opinion fairly. A result similar to last year’s general election, in which one party gained an absolute majority for only a minority (36.9%) of the votes, would hinder the healing process.

A FPTP election could result either in all or most of the successful candidates supporting Jeremy Corbyn, but without the support of the Parliamentary Labour Party, or all or most of the successful candidates opposing him. Either result would feed resentment and could deepen the divisions. This would be unhealthy, not only for the Labour Party but also for the country. The Government and the country need a robust Opposition and the country needs to feel there is an alternative and viable Government available.

So Labour’s NEC should not be elected by FPTP like MPs are elected. Nor, if its members are to be elected, should the Shadow Cabinet. FPTP elections would hinder the healing process.

The only way to secure a fair result, acceptable to all, is to use a preferential and proportionate system; i.e. Single Transferable Vote (STV). With STV, each voter has one vote of equal value and all shades of opinion and both genders can be represented fairly. STV elections would help the healing process.

STV is a preferential voting system for electing members of a representative body. It is the equivalent of Alternative Vote (AV), which the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats use to elect their Leaders when there are more than two candidates for the position. Conservative MPs use the Exhaustive Ballot, which is similar to AV, to reduce their leadership candidates to two for the final selection by party members.

With STV or AV, voters simply vote by writing “1” against their 1st choice, “2” against their 2nd choice and so on. They can express as many or as few preferences as they wish, but they have only one vote. Unlike FPTP voting, that vote will be transferred according to the voter’s choice if it cannot count for their first choice.

STV doesn’t need weighting of votes, but that can be accommodated if required. For example, MPs, party member and TU candidates could be grouped in three separate constituencies electing different numbers of NEC or Shadow Cabinet members.

It is crucial for the party’s representative bodies actually to be representative and not only that but truly and fairly representative. Elections by STV are the best way to achieve this.

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