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London Mayor Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Labour's search for a candidate
Frank Dobson was chosen following a three-way electoral college
Labour's selection of a mayoral candidate was perhaps the most contentious issue in the run-up to the main campaign for the London elections.

At the heart of the row was the complex electoral college used for the procedure.

And it eventually led to Ken Livingstone's decision to break with Labour and run as an independent.

First there was a prolonged period of speculation as to whether left-winger Mr Livingstone - who had made no secret of his desire to be London mayor - would be allowed to stand in the party's selection procedure.

At the same time, a series of Labour ministers were being touted as potential candidates running as Prime Minister Tony Blair's choice.

Eventually - and some said reluctantly - former health secretary Frank Dobson joined the race, with most observers regarding him as the "stop Livingstone" candidate.

Electoral procedure

Once the party had drawn up a shortlist of three candidates - former transport minister Glenda Jackson was the third hopeful - it had to decide how the candidate would be selected.

Instead of the one member, one vote, procedure it had originally planned to use, it decided to split the voting between three sections - MPs and MEPs, party members and unions and affiliated societies.

The bone of contention for the candidates involved in the procedure - all of whom voiced their objections - was that it was weighted so that the votes of individual MPs, for instance, were worth a great deal more than those of a party member.

A further source of controversy was that some unions decided not to ballot members when making their choice.


A political decision?

The introduction of the electoral college was seen as an attempt by Labour to ensure victory for Mr Dobson, Prime Minister Tony Blair's favoured candidate.

The party was believed to fear that Mr Livingstone's support among grassroots party members would ensure him victory under a one member, one vote (OMOV) system.

Mr Dobson, however, also said he favoured OMOV.

And the choice of an electoral college instead, undoubtedly affected the eventual result.

Mr Livingstone's supporters, for instance, point out that the AEEU union did not ballot its members and gave its share of the electoral college - 3.86% - to Mr Dobson.

And with Mr Livingstone losing by just three per cent overall, they say that decision was crucial.

Meanwhile, of those who actually cast individual votes in the system, Mr Livingstone polled around 70,000 first preference votes compared to just over 20,000 for Mr Dobson.

But because of the way the electoral college was set up, Mr Dobson was still able to claim victory on the basis of support from MPs and union leaders who voted on behalf of their members without consulting them.

The system was defended by Downing Street, which said it was the same as the one used to elect Mr Blair as Labour leader in 1994, though unions had to ballot members on that occasion.

The party's National Executive Committee, is, however, to examine the use of electoral colleges for selection procedures in the future.


How the procedure worked

The electoral college was made up of three sections:

  • MPs, MEPs and Greater London Authority (GLA) candidates
  • Labour members in London
  • Unions and affiliated societies

    Each of the three sections was worth 33.333% in the electoral college.

    It meant that the votes of the 75 MPs, MEPs and GLA candidates had the same weight as the 35,604 party members who voted.

    In other words, an individual MP's vote was worth 0.4444% to the final result while one vote from a party member was worth 0.0009 - meaning each MPs vote was worth more than 450 times that of each party member.
    Overall result
    Frank Dobson: 49.6%
    Ken Livingstone: 46%
    Glenda Jackson: 4.4%
    After second preferences redistributed
    Frank Dobson: 51.5%
    Ken Livingstone: 48.5%
    The rules of Labour's mayoral contest meant that those voting in the electoral college could express a second preference.

    If no candidate won an overall majority when all the votes were counted, votes cast in favour of the candidate coming third would be redistributed.

    This is what happened in the vote, with the second preferences of third-placed Glenda Jackson's supporters being redistributed to Frank Dobson and Ken Livingstone when she was eliminated after the first round.

    After redistribution, the members' vote was split 60-40 in Mr Livingstone's favour, but it was not enough to swing the election for him.


    MPs, MEPs and Greater London Authority candidates

    Of the 75 MPs, MEPs and GLA candidates, most voted for Mr Dobson.
    MPs, MEPs and GLA candidates
    Frank Dobson: 86.5%
    Ken Livingstone: 12.2%
    Glenda Jackson: 1.3%
    After second preferences redistributed
    Frank Dobson: 86.5%
    Ken Livingstone: 13.5%
    First preference:

  • Dobson: 64 votes
  • Livingstone: 9
  • Jackson: 1

    After redistribution of Ms Jackson's vote:

  • Dobson: 64
  • Livingstone: 10

    The second preferences of those voting for Mr Dobson were 28 to Ms Jackson and three to Mr Livingstone, with the remaining 33 expressing no second preference.

    The second preferences of those voting for Mr Livingstone were 6 to Ms Jackson and one to Mr Dobson, with the remaining two expressing no second preference.

    One of the 75 eligible people in this section did not cast their vote.

    Back to the top.


    Labour Party members in London
    Votes of Labour members in London
    Livingstone: 54.9% (19,548)
    Dobson: 35.3% (12,559)
    Glenda Jackson: 9.8% (3,497)
    Mr Livingstone was the choice of most Labour Party members in London, of whom 35,604 cast valid votes.

    But needing about 66% of the vote to beat Mr Dobson, he was just short of his target.
    Result after second preferences redistributed
    Livingstone: 59.9% (21,082)
    Dobson: 40.1% (14,042)
    After initially polling 54.9%, Mr Livingstone received a further 1,534 votes as second preference of Jackson supporters.

    Mr Dobson received 1,483 second preference votes from Jackson supporters.

    Turnout in the members' section was 72.7%, with 36,134 of the total 49,700 of the ballot papers being returned. There were 530 spoilt ballot papers.

    Back to the top.


    Unions and affiliated societies

    Among the unions and societies affiliated to the Labour Party, most of those which balloted their members supported Mr Livingstone.

    Each union or society was allocated a percentage share of the electoral college.

    Those which balloted its members either gave its entire share of the college to the winning candidate, or split the percentage between the candidates based on the share of the vote.
    Unions and affiliated organisations
    Ken Livingstone: 71%
    Frank Dobson: 26.9%
    Glenda Jackson: 2.1%
    After second preferences redistributed
    Ken Livingstone: 72%
    Frank Dobson: 28%
    About 80% of Mr Dobson's share of the vote from unions and affiliated societies came from organisations which did not ballot members.

    About 90% of Mr Livingstone's support came from those which did hold ballots.

    The result of those unions and societies was;

  • Livingstone: 74.6% (48,595)
  • Dobson: 14.1% (9,200)
  • Jackson: 11.3% (7,347)

    Mr Dobson's camp, however, point out that some unions decided not to split their votes between the candidates, but grant all their share of the college to the winning candidate in each ballot.

    Back to the top.

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