Labour Leadership Election – spoilt Union Ballots

In a comment on a link on a previous thread Mark M alluded to the astonishing high level of spoilt papers in the Trade Union section of the leadership election. Here’s the link to the full results.Some examples:

The biggest voting block – Unite – Votes cast = 111,270 – spoilt = 15,936.

If we look at the GMB it’s cast = 43,106, spoilt = 6,352.

In total cast = 247,339, spoilt = 36,105

Am I missing something or isn’t that totally astonishing? Note that this was a postal ballot and 36,105 people, 15% of those that bothered, trundled to the Post Box to say in person -“None of the Above” – remarkable.

(As a comparison 188,000 ballots were spoiled in the 2005 General Election – 0.7% of votes cast)

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  • How easy is it to turn a valid vote into a spoiled vote?

  • A second thought or rather Tom stoppard’s

    “I’t’s not the voting that counts, it’s the counting.”

  • How many union members could have voted in total? Seems the overwhelming number were underwhelmed at opportunity to vote for the future of Labour.

  • Dewi

    2.7m ballots sent out – turnout 9%.

  • Dewi

    That’s what I’m wondering – I didn’t vote as not a party supporter (although I got a ballot paper…). Looked straightforward enough to me.

  • Cynic

    Protest vote. All the candidates bar Abott were part of the massive failure that has burdened the next generation with a lifetime of debt and debased the currency. People know that and want nothing to do with any of them

  • gmb press office

    on union ballot papers there was a box which voters had to tick saying they supported labour party.

    on most of the spoilt ballot papers that box was not ticked.

    whether this was an ommission or deliberate is not clear

  • Cynic

    “The peoples’ flag is deepest red,
    And that is why we went for Ed.
    The members vote we will ignore,
    For they don’t count here anymore.

    It’s Unions Unions all the way
    To bugger the econ-o-may
    With threats of Strikes, we will ensure
    Our members jobs go out the door

    Then when around our ears its collapsed
    We’ll shout “It’s all the fault of Thatch”
    For we don’t want the plebs to see
    We’ve got no ide -ol -ogy

    And when elekshuns come around
    Our vote may sink into the ground
    But we’ll be happy on the way
    To collective pen- ur – ay

  • DC

    Don’t fret it just shows democracy is alive and well and the selection of Oxbridge candidates didn’t appeal to all affiliated members.

    Mind you I don’t think any went to Eton?

  • Martin

    by the fourth round the votes being redistributed were 2nd, 3rd or 4th preferences depending on what order voters had put the candidates. So probably the ‘spoilt’ ballots were from those who hadn’t bothered to put more than 1st and 2nd choices – not quite the situation you suggest!

  • the old Manxman

    I raised this (in another persona) on the UK Polling Report site and got the following helpful reply from commenter Olly

    @Roger Mexico
    Regarding the spoilt votes in the Affiliated Section – I think you will find that all affiliated voters were required to tick a box to indicate that they support the principles of the Labour Party. Spoilt votes will largely be those voters who failed to complete the declaration and whose votes would therefore not be counted.

    I don’t think there was any widespread deliberate spoiling of papers. In the constituencies these were as rare as in a general election – usually under 1%. But as validated Party members they wouldn’t have to tick any boxes.

    However in the affiliates section, where boxes had to be ticked, spoilt votes were 10-15% of those who voted, both in the unions and the societies. It can’t be a matter of education – even the Labour Lawyers spoilt 11%.

    There was obviously some bad design of the ballot paper or accompanying literature. If they got that high a spoil rate, presumably it could be improved – ER Services are supposed to advise on that sort of thing.

    Does anyone know, by the way, if affiliates could vote online, and if so, was there an automatic reminder for the box tick, as with those “agree with terms and conditions” boxes?

  • Says it all.

  • Dewi

    Thank you – I wasn’t allowed to vote online and have chucked my ballot paper away so can’t check the tick box thing – but makes perfect sense.

  • joeCanuck

    When the Parti Quebecois tried to steal the referendum here on independence, their vote counters rejected “No” votes for things like both legs of the “X” not being the same length.
    As Articles said above, it may be the counting that matters rather than the votes. Remember FST.

  • Of course, no surprise that the Northern Ireland CLP (Constituency Labour Party) managed to spoil no votes! They’ll be well used to transferable voting systems.

  • Dewi

    Nice link Alan – strange, the Labour party are usually reticent about membership levels but that’s them published by constituency.