Monday, June 30, 2008

Brass(ic) Flunkeys

Further to DougtheDug's link in the comments of the previous post but one, I've been boning up on how Scottish Labour goes about selecting a leader. In the past, it's been possible for a narrow 'selectorate' to pick a candidate, who has then become the party's nominee for First Minister within the 28 day deadline as set out in the Scotland Act.

However, having been released from that particular time pressure by the Scottish electorate last year, there's no longer any particular hurry to select. And with at least 4 candidates purported to be weighing up their options, it looks like there will, for once, be a contest which relies on the whole electoral college for its outcome, rather than as a North Korean-style affirmation.

The Labour electoral college gives 1/3 of the votes to their parliamentarians; 1/3 to party members, and 1/3 to affilliated organisations (Labour Trade Union members). That means sending a ballot paper and a reply paid envelope to each voter. At the last count, that was over 400,000 ballots. It also means hiring an organisation, like ERS, to supervise the ballot.

None of this comes cheap, and there's one big problem - Labour is skint. Brassic. Potless. With a by-election to fight in the next month and major donors refusing to stump up while Brown remains in post, can the party really afford to fork out the £200,000 plus this contest is going to cost them?

1 comment:

Math Campbell said...

I think this finance issue is going to come back again and again.

If Labour really are that skint, and it seems that Scottish Labour even more so, there may be a wee problem for them here.

My bet is on Scottish Labour trying to funnel as much cash from the by-election as possible to the leadership contest, on the basis that the parliamentary group know the way the wind is blowing and don't want the sour stench of failure on them as well. Gordon's done. You know it, I know it, the Labour Party knows it, and if the happy grin he's usually seen with is anything to go by, so does Gordon.
So I don't think we'll be seeing any Labour MSP's breaking their backs campaigning in Glasgow any time soon. They'll be keeping an oddly low profile on the by-election issue, sticking to the leadership contest.

At least, so goes my thinking. I could, of course, be totally absolutely wrong.