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Your vote counts ...

Betsan Powys | 07:57 UK time, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

sheppard_416x300.jpgIn an hour or so the second of the band of brothers - the Miliband of brothers - will be arriving in Cardiff.

Ed was here some weeks ago. Now David is coming to the Senedd to meet his supporters in the race to become Labour leader and to have a private meeting with the most senior elected Labour politician in the UK, as someone will no doubt have pointed out to Mr Miliband in his briefing notes. I wonder whether someone's given Carwyn Jones the T-shirt yet.

The Milibands aren't alone in arriving with something in their back pocket. In Scotland yesterday all the candidates - other than Diane Abbott who chose to tread more carefully - were happy to pledge that if made leader, they'd ensure the Scottish Labour leader got to join the UK party's governing body. No doubt the message will be the same here in Wales.

There's a seat on the NEC with Carwyn Jones' name on it.

The last time I looked the eldest brother was running neck and neck with his little brother in the race amongst Welsh MPs. Ten supporters each. Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott can so far name only one Welsh MP among their supporters. Rhondda's Chris Bryant might have nominated the only woman standing but he's no intention of using his vote to see her sitting in office. His vote will go to David Miliband.

How about Assembly Members, you ask? How will they vote?

The answer? That it doesn't actually matter as much.
With whose authority do I make such a dreadful claim?
By the Labour Party's.

Look at their rule book and you'll see that I'm talking electorally here. I'n talking about what votes are worth in the election of a UK Labour party leader. I'm thinking in terms of how much weight each vote carries and on that score - sorry AMs - how you vote will matter less to each and every candidate that heads to Wales than how your colleagues in Westminster vote.

The electoral college to choose the new leader is made up of on one third Parliamentarians, one third party members and one third affiliated organisations - Trades Unions mostly.

For Parliamentarians, read MPs, read MEPs. AMs? Nah.

Now hang on, you might say. When Carwyn Jones took on Edwina Hart and Huw Lewis in the race to become leader in Wales, the vote of a Welsh MP counted for just as much as the vote of an AM. They both shared the privilege of having more clout, per vote, than ordinary party members. Equal privilege.

In Scotland yesterday one MSP wasn't having it. The situation was, said Hugh Henry, "grossly unfair". He offered one of two solutions. Either MPs had to give up their privileged status when it came to the Scottish contest, or MSPs ought to join the electoral college in the vote for the overall party leader. In other words everyone ought to be equal, not some a little more equal some of the time.

He reckons the former makes for the best solution - make a vote from a Scottish MPs nothing special when it comes to electing a Labour leader who sits in the Scottish Parliament. Their vote counts but it counts no more than that of an ordinary voter.

So is there a Welsh Labour Assembly Member who's as prepared as Hugh Henry to speak plainly?

And if there is, might they spit it out today?


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