The means by which Labour Party leaders acquire their position determines their legitimacy and their authority over the parliamentary Labour Party and within the wider Labour movement. Understanding the rules governing Labour Party leadership selection and rejection, and the changing means by which respective leaders have been selected, is essential to an understanding of the development of Labour Party politics over the last fifty years. However, despite its centrality to the ideological, political and electoral identity of the Labour Party, the existing literature on Labour Party studies makes only limited reference to the means by which successive leaders actually acquired the party leadership. Drawing together debates on the method of party leadership selection and the ideological positioning of leadership candidates, this book considers the candidates and campaigning strategies for each of the eight party leadership elections from the election of Harold Wilson in 1963 to Gordon Brown in 2007. Within this the ideological influences of the shift in the method of selecting the Labour Party leader, from an elite parliamentary ballot to a mass participatory Electoral College, are considered. In charting the decline of the left, Timothy Heppell here considers how the outcome of democratisation has been the intensification of the security of tenure of the incumbent, and the reverse of their intended effect of making the party leader more accountable to the wider Labour movement. Given the bypassing of the Electoral College to anoint Gordon Brown in 2007, and the debates surrounding his authority and legitimacy as Labour Party leader thereafter, this book offers a comprehensive and timely examination of Labour Party leadership elections from Wilson to Brown.
Choosing the Labour Leader
Labour Party Leadership Elections from Wilson to Brown