The process of CLPs (Constituency Labour Parties) nominating their preferred candidates in the Labour leadership contest is almost at an end, with tomorrow the deadline for nominations.
The nominations have no direct influence on the result, but the number of CLP nominations each candidate has received is shown in the leaflet that accompanies ballot papers, so they play a role in establishing the relative credibility of each candidate.
Clearly the Owen Smith campaign is desperately scrabbling for credibility.
Luke Akehurst, bastion of Progress (the shadowy ‘party within a party’ promoting right-wing views in the Labour party), avowed opponent of Jeremy Corbyn and failed 2016 NEC candidate (who still sees fit to call Corbyn ‘unelectable’), has been writing to CLPs reminding them that the party’s rules give them an option to exclude constituency membership from the nomination ballot.
Here’s the email he sent to CLP executives:
He also suggests that they may not wish to have a ballot at all in case it’s ‘divisive’ – reading between the lines, he seems to be suggesting that constituency execs should arrange nominations for Smith by excluding the membership and that if it doesn’t think it can win the nomination process even via that option, they shouldn’t have one.
Considering that Mr Akehurst, as his own blog details, holds no official position in the national party that would entitle or require him to be contacting CLPs to advise them on the rules regarding ballots, Smith’s supporters are extremely desperate to ensure that the nomination numbers don’t humiliate their candidate.
Which is yet another thing they’ve failed at. The latest numbers show that from 271 nominations so far (and still climbing), Jeremy Corbyn has amassed 240, compared to Smith’s 41, with almost all of Smith’s nominations having been secured by following Akehurst’s advice not to let the members have a say.
Smith himself has claimed that Corbyn has the support of less than 50% of full members. So the fact that even via underhand means he can only gain the support of 15% (and probably lower, since at least some and possibly many CLPs that have declined to nominate have done so because the Chair knew a Smith nomination could not be secured by any means) of nominations speaks volumes about Smith’s credibility and believability.