Pressure increases on Johann Lamont to publish leadership election details

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
New Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont is facing calls for openness following Saturday’s triumph when she emerged as the winner in the race to replace former Holyrood leader Iain Gray.
 
SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn has written to the new Scottish Labour leader urging her to follow the same standards as all other parties by publishing full details of ballots cast in the contest.

By a Newsnet reporter
 
New Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont is facing calls for openness following Saturday’s triumph when she emerged as the winner in the race to replace former Holyrood leader Iain Gray.
 
SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn has written to the new Scottish Labour leader urging her to follow the same standards as all other parties by publishing full details of ballots cast in the contest.

The Labour MSP was announced the winner after achieving over 50% of votes cast.  However controversy has followed Labour’s refusal to publish details of the ballot amid claims that one of the candidates received no fewer than seven votes from one person.

The controversy deepened today after claims by Labour’s Nationalist rivals that Scottish Labour must have something to hide.

Mr Hepburn, who is the SNP MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth questioned why Scottish Labour has refused to publish information every other party publishes – including the UK wide Labour party.

He said:

“What exactly is Labour afraid of?  By not publishing a full breakdown of votes cast in the leadership ballot Labour are casting doubt on the validity of their own result.

“There are three reasons for Labour to hide the result.  Their embarrassment at revealing a declining membership, the embarrassment of Johann Lamont losing the membership vote or that turn-out was incredibly low.”

Contest runner up Ken Macintosh received more support from members but he was overtaken by the eventual winner after she won the support of trade unions and party affiliates.

Revealing he had written to the new leader, Mr Hepburn added:

“Every other party publishes this information.  Even UK Labour published this information when Ed Miliband was elected.  There is a very real question of what Labour are hiding.  As a democratic political party there are real questions for Labour to answer.

“I have written to Johann to ask for this information to be made public.  Does she want this lack of transparency to set the tone for her time as leader?  If so, it is clear nothing has changed in the Scottish Labour party.”

Failure to publish an unweighted breakdown of party elections is unusual and all other parties have disclosed recent ballot details.

Some commentators are already questioning whether Labour have something to hide by publishing only the percentages and not the actual figures.

Analysis of available data suggests that turnout could have been as low as forty per cent and there are also indications that up to 5 out of the 80 Labour Parliamentarians didn’t even cast a vote.

Mr Hepburn’s letter is reproduced below:

Dear Johann,

I am writing to you to urge you to publish a full breakdown of votes cast in the leadership ballot.

Publishing this information would give you the opportunity to show the level of support you received and would bring an end to questions over your lack of support among the membership of the Labour party.

I understand there was some embarrassment in Labour when publication of the UK leadership results revealed the membership of Scottish Labour to be smaller than had been publicly stated but as that information is already in the public domain that is no reason to withhold the information.

The SNP published this information when Alex Salmond was elected leader, as did your own party when Ed Miliband was returned as leader. The Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats having published this information as well.

The Scottish Labour Party said up to 300,000 ballots were sent out so publishing figures of actual votes cast in each category would clarify for many the way in which you became leader of Labour in Scotland and who supported your election.

Failure to publish an unweighted breakdown goes against the norm in recent leadership elections:

The SNP did when Alex Salmond was elected leader:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3622728.stm

The Scottish LibDems did when Tavish Scott was elected leader:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7581344.stm

The Scottish Tories did when Ruth Davidson was elected leader:
http://www.scottishconservatives.com/news/news/ruth-davidson-elected-as-leader-of-the-scottish/1477

The UK LibDems did when Nick Clegg was elected leader:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7148367.stm

The UK Tories did when David Cameron was elected leader:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4502652.stm

And even UK Labour did by electoral college when Ed Miliband was elected leader:
http://www.labour.org.uk/leadership-clps
http://www.labour.org.uk/leadership-mps-and-meps
http://www.labour.org.uk/leadership-affiliates