Would a secret ballot have improved Ed’s mandate?
It’s quite rare for any vote to beÂ cast publicly in an election, except maybe when it’s on behalf of someone else.Â As partyÂ members have their own vote in Labour leadership elections, that explanation doesn’t apply so for the party to make itsÂ MPsÂ preferences public is unusual.Â It’s not something the other parties do, for example.
What it does do is add pressure to vote in the way an MP would like to be seen to have voted, whether that be by a sponsoring union, a constituency party or an anticipated future leader.
Arguably, that shouldÂ help to tend towards more decisive results – ifÂ MPsÂ gravitate towards the front-runnerÂ for this reason then that will increase his lead.Â Except when the front-runner loses his lead and there’s a late swing, as seeminglyÂ happened this time.Â Having promised one camp orÂ another how they intended to vote, or stated their intentions publicly, it’s then much more difficult to row back than were their votes cast in secret.
Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered and they’d have voted the same either way (in which case, there’s still no need for an open vote), but interesting though it is for those looking on, I can’t really see how it enhances an MP’s ability to vote for the candidate he or she thinks best for the job.