Four candidates were successfully nominated to stand in the election: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn, and Liz Kendall. The voting process began on Friday 14 August 2015 and closed on Thursday 10 September 2015, and the results were announced on Saturday 12 September 2015. Voting was by Labour Party members and registered and affiliated supporters, using the alternative vote system.
Despite these interventions, Corbyn was elected in the first round receiving 59.5% of the votes, winning in all three sections of the ballot. Less than a year later, a leadership challenge saw another leadership election, where Corbyn again won, with an increased share of the vote.
The review changed the way in which Labour elects leaders. Under the former system, a three-way electoral college chose the leader, with one-third weight given to the votes of the Parliamentary Labour Party (i.e., Labour members of the House of Commons and Labour members of the European Parliament), one-third to individual Labour Party members, and one third to the trade union and affiliated societies sections. Following the Collins review, the electoral college was replaced by a pure "one member, one vote" (OMOV) system. Candidates are elected by members and registered and affiliated supporters, who all receive a maximum of one vote and all votes are weighted equally. This meant that, for example, members of Labour-affiliated trade unions needed to register as Labour supporters to vote.
In late August, the Labour Party reported that about 552,000 members and supporters were eligible to vote; about 292,000 full members, 148,000 affiliated supporters (members of trade unions and socialist societies who opted to affiliate), plus 112,000 registered supporters.
The deadline on 12 August 2015 to join as a member or supporter was extended by 3 hours due to heavy demand making the party website difficult to use.
To be placed on the ballot, candidates for leader had to obtain the nominations of 35 MPs. An MP who nominates a candidate does not have to subsequently support, or vote for, that candidate. Some MPs have stated that they nominated only to ensure that candidate got onto the ballot paper.
Burnham was praised for having both "a radical left-wing vision" and being credible enough "to unite the party and win back power", as well as for being someone who "actually listens to party members and the public".
Burnham attracted press criticism for claiming £17,000 a year from the taxpayer to rent a London flat, despite owning another within walking distance of the House of Commons. A spokesman for Burnham said that renting out the original flat was necessary to "cover his costs" as parliamentary rule changes meant he was no longer able to claim for mortgage interest expenses. Burnham was criticised for saying that Labour should have a woman leader "when the time is right", with the New Statesman saying that he had "tripped over his mouth again".
Cooper was praised by the Huffington Post for her hard work in local constituencies during the leadership contest and for her preparation for the Local Government Association hustings.
Corbyn's leadership bid was the subject of fierce discussion within the media. Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times argued that the election of Corbyn "spells disaster" for the Labour Party.Owen Jones argued in The Guardian that the reason Corbyn was so popular was because he "offers a coherent, inspiring and, crucially, a hopeful vision" addressing social injustice and economic inequality, comparing the surge of support for Corbyn to the popularity of both UKIP in England and the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland.
In June 2015, Kendall's leadership bid received praise from The Sun, who said that she is the "only prayer they [the Labour Party] have". The Sun also praised her for saying 'the country comes first' in response to Andy Burnham who said 'the [Labour] Party always comes first' in the Newsnight Labour leadership hustings.Commentators from across the political spectrum have said that Kendall is the leadership candidate that the Conservatives "fear the most".
However, the Huffington Post criticised her, saying "Liz Kendall just doesn't seem to have it, she seems to be always on the verge of tripping over her own words, as if she is perpetually being caught off guard."
Dispute over election integrity
Labour Party membership since 1993
Labour Party full members (excluding affiliates and supporters)
One of the most notable features of the election was the large increase in Labour Party membership, and the registration of significant numbers of the new affiliated and registered classes of voting supporters, during the period of the campaign. Concern was expressed that the new rules were unfairly benefiting Corbyn, and there might be a legal challenge, but in the event the result was so decisive these concerns were not pursued after the election.
In June 2015, the Conservative-identifying political commentator Toby Young wrote in the Telegraph encouraging Conservatives to join Labour to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, his reason being "to consign Labour to electoral oblivion". This trended on Twitter as #ToriesforCorbyn and the attempt, as well as Labour's response, were subject to criticism. Two days later the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) wrote also in support of Corbyn. Following this, Labour MP John Mann called for the election to be halted. Acting leader of the party Harriet Harman responded by calling on constituency parties to check new members, but stated that Labour has "a robust system to prevent fraudulent or malicious applications." Labour MP Fabian Hamilton stated there was "no evidence" that groups were trying to infiltrate the election. Leadership candidates Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall also responded by saying there was no evidence of infiltration, and while not dismissing the claims, Corbyn stated he only wanted "genuine Labour supporters" to vote for him.
It emerged in early August 2015 that 260 former candidates from the Green Party, Left Unity and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition had attempted to become registered supporters but would now be blocked from voting. Shortly before this it was revealed that Conservative MP and former junior minister Tim Loughton had been caught applying to become a registered Labour supporter, subsequently claiming that his intention was to "blow the gaff on what a complete farce the whole thing is". Veteran Labour MP Barry Sheerman also joined calls for the election to be "paused" over the fears of infiltration by other parties. The Labour Party told representatives of the four candidates at a meeting on 11 August that 1,200 members and supporters of other parties had been excluded and a further 800 were under investigation. Harriet Harman at the time admitted that as many as 100,000 people may be blocked from voting.
The number of those rejected would eventually reach 56,000, around 9.1% of the 610,753 considered eligible to vote at the start of the contest. According to the party, 45,000 of those were rejected for not being on the electoral register.
Andrew MacKinlay, a former Labour MP, further alleged that Labour was attempting to rig its own leadership election against Corbyn; a view shared by comedian Jeremy Hardy. Such allegations became known to the media – and particularly Corbyn supporters – as the "Labour Purge", with #LabourPurge trending on Twitter. Claims of such a "purge" of Corbyn supporters were rejected by Harman who insisted that the exclusion processes were impartial to candidates. Scottish newspaper The National printed a page-long satirical cartoon speculating further vote-rigging by Labour's leadership.
With less than 24 hours to go before the voting deadline, the party closed their telephone helpline. The move came during widespread complaints from "thousands" of voters who were missing emailed or physical ballot papers.The Guardian reported that one of their sources in the leadership camps stated that "the party has basically decided to stop taking calls and if you don't have a vote, you're now basically not getting one." The party refused to confirm how many ballot papers had actually been sent.Andy Burnham publicly criticised the number of missing ballots and the closure of the phone line.
Labour MP David Lammy called for a full inquiry into the missing ballot papers. Of the 200 people his team phone called in London on the eve of the deadline, one in five were missing their ballots.
^ abLabour Party members, registered supporters and signed up trade unionists who are eligible to vote in the leadership election
^Members of affiliated Trade Unions who signed up to vote in the leadership election, and members of the public who paid £3 and signed up to receive a vote in the leadership election.
^Members of affiliated Trade Unions who signed up to vote in the leadership election.
^Members of the public who paid £3 and signed up to receive a vote in the leadership election.
^Note that Labour Party rules state that the candidate who wins over 50% of the votes is declared the winner; thus, on these figures, Corbyn would have won without the need for a second or third round.
^As Cooper and Burnham tied for second place in the poll's second round, YouGov published data showing the result in a run-off between Corbyn/Burnham and Corbyn/Cooper.
^As Burnham and Cooper tied for second place in the poll's second round, YouGov published data showing the result in a run-off between Corbyn/Burnham and Corbyn/Cooper.
^ abPeople who are likely to vote Labour in next general election.
^ abcPeople who voted Labour in 2015 general election.
^ abPeople who are likely to vote in next general election, excluding residents unlikely to vote.
^Residents over 18 in Great Britain after watching video clips of candidates
Turnout for the vote was 422,871 (76.3%) of the 554,272 eligible voters, with 207 spoilt ballots. 343,995 votes (81.3%) were cast online, the UK's largest online ballot.
Political reaction to the result
Ed Miliband, former party leader, offered his support to Corbyn and urged other Labour MPs to do so, though he ruled himself out of taking on a position in Corbyn's shadow cabinet, to focus on representing his constituency.Kezia Dugdale, then leader of Scottish Labour, declared that "politics has changed" and people desired a "radical change", with Corbyn's election to the leadership showing that Labour had "listened to that call".Carwyn Jones, then leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister of Wales, congratulated Corbyn and urged the party to embrace the fact that the campaign had "energised a huge number of people who were previously disengaged from party politics" and unite around their new leader.
Corbyn's rivals for the leadership each reacted to the result. Andy Burnham said that Jeremy Corbyn was a politician with "very deep beliefs, very strong principles" which voters would embrace. Burnham later replaced Yvette Cooper as Shadow Home Secretary after she announced that she would not serve on a Labour frontbench led by Corbyn and that she would instead focus on playing a role in the upcoming EU membership referendum. Following the close of voting, Liz Kendall made a speech reflecting on her campaign stating that, after the New Labour government, there was never any debate in relation to the direction the party should go, and it had created a split "between the party and the country". All three of Corbyn's opponents in the leadership election stated they would support Corbyn, that the result should be accepted and the party should focus on attacking the Conservative government.
Nigel Farage, then leader of the UK Independence Party, congratulated Corbyn but added his concerns about the new Labour leader's immigration policies. Before Corbyn's win, Farage stated that Corbyn's "sweeping emergence on the Left of British politics, where he has helped re-engage many who had given up on politics, is a good thing for our democracy".
Tim Farron, then leader of the Liberal Democrats, commented on the "massive space in the centre ground of British politics" that had been opened up, due to the perceived shift leftwards by Labour, and suggested that the Liberal Democrats would be able to appeal more directly to "sensible, moderate, progressives who are opposed to what the Conservatives are doing, but cannot bring themselves to support a party of the hard left". The President of the Liberal Democrats, Sal Brinton, accused Labour of abdicating "its responsibilities" as a party of effective opposition. Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said that Corbyn's success meant a "return to the damaging see saw politics of the past".Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, attacked Corbyn as the "opposite of what this country needs", accusing Labour of returning to its 1970s policies.
Leanne Wood, then leader of Plaid Cymru congratulated Corbyn and urged the Labour Party to join with her party's MPs in opposing "Tory policies that are causing great harm to people in Wales and beyond".
Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said that it was not surprising that Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership contest, as all the candidates except for Corbyn essentially supported the Conservative government's austerity policies. As Krugman noted, not only the candidates but also the Labour moderates implicitly agreed with their opponents' idea that the government budget should always be balanced by the austerity policies. Krugman argued that it was a false claim that the Labour party, in power during 1997–2010, spent far beyond their means and caused a debt crisis.
Economist Joseph Stiglitz, also a Nobel prize winner, argued that the Labour party platform was different from what a leftist party must do, saying that Labour had not opposed austerity programmes. He added that Corbyn's camp offered a left-wing agenda and therefore Stiglitz was not surprised at all that Corbyn became the contender for the leadership contest.