An interesting thing seems to have cropped up of late; here and there, the suggestion that Liz Kendall should drop out of the Labour leadership race.
I say interesting, what I mean is utterly perplexing. So far as I can see, there is not much reason why should even consider it.
The theory seems to go that she should drop out of the race and endorse Yvette Cooper, in an effort to stop Jeremy Corbyn from winning the leadership and leading Labour to their biggest catastrophe since 1983. And whilst I do hope that Yvette wins and believe that Jeremy Corbyn would not be good for the Party, the idea that Liz’s presence or not on the ballot paper can have any influence on this is simply ignorant of the facts.
The Labour Party elects its leaders on a transferable vote system. So, if Liz comes fourth (As it is looking like she might -Ed) then her votes will be redistributed to the second preferences. It’s impossible to split the vote under this system. If one candidate, let’s say Jeremy Corbyn, gets 50% of the vote then they’ve won. If they don’t, then it goes to second preferences. The number of votes cast is the same.
Chris Terry over at LabourList explains it much better.
So why are people keen for Liz to drop out?
If it’s not for one of the other candidates’ benefit or detriment, then it must be something about her. I can see two potential characteristics: she’s a woman, or she’s the “Blairite” candidate.
On the former of those, whilst there has been a strain of the debate which has started to look worryingly like sexism, I don’t think it’s the answer.
Her perceived right-winged-ness then? Sadly, I suspect it’s this. The debate has been becoming increasingly soured and increasingly poisoned of late, with a large sector of predominantly (But not exclusively -Ed) Corbynites targeting Kendall and her supporters as “not belonging in the Labour Party”. It’s farcical nonsense, of course, and I’ve touched on the “You’re a Tory!” unpleasantness already.
But more than that, it’s worrying that any group would try and force a candidate off the ballot paper. I called for Jeremy Corbyn to be on the ballot paper not because I agree with him or intend to vote for him — I do not on either charge — but because I know that my party is a broad church, and I want all manner of opinion to be included in the debate.
Liz Kendall deserves her place on the ballot paper for that same reason. The idea that there is an element who don’t want her there, because they want to marginalise and exclude the ideas that she represents, is one I find deeply sinister.