Members of the Devizes Labour Constituency Labour Party have made their choice for Leader and Deputy Leader in the forthcoming Labour leadership election, with Keir Starmer being the choice for Leader and Dawn Butler for Deputy Leader.
Forty-two party members eligible to vote for the CLP choice spent an hour and a quarter discussing the various candidates in a good-humoured and open forum. There were members with strongly held views, members with personal knowledge of some of the candidates and members who were new to the process, but everyone had an opportunity, and many took it, to express their views.
There were those who were disappointed that some candidates were on the Deputy list, not the Leader list. And there were some people whose views when they arrived were overturned whilst listening to what others had to say.
Some remained keen to vote for their personal choice however whilst others - on the grounds that democracy needs a wide choice of candidates - wanted to know which candidates were definitely on the ballot paper and which needed support from CLPs to get there.
But it was generally agreed that Labour’s new leader and deputy leader must have what it takes to stop infighting. They must have charisma and be able to engage with people – not only party members. They must have authenticity and believe in what they say, and not be prone to cave in under pressure to do what they feel is wrong but yet able to change their views when evidence shows them a different way. They need clear and firm moral principles, resilience to deal with the media and they need to be able to persuade people who voted Tory in the 2019 General Election to return to the Labour Party in the next election.
After a transferable vote ballot it was clear that there was much more clarity in the room about the leadership candidate than the deputy, with several people not using all four of their votes for the Leader candidate – for them there was one or maybe two choices and no others, whereas all the votes were used for the Deputy Leader. And the result for Leader was very close indeed with Keir Starmer beating Emily Thornberry by just one vote after two rounds. There was a wider range of voting for the deputy leader, though Dawn Butler was the clear winner, with more than double the votes of her nearest rival, Angela Rayner.
The ballot for members opens on Friday 21st February and closes at noon on Thursday 2nd April. So there is still time for everyone to make up their own minds about who to vote for. Information about the candidates and recordings of hustings can be found on the Leadership Election Hub at labour.org.uk
Photos by Bob Naylor