From the outside, the electoral college the Labour party uses to elect it’s leader does look odd. From the inside, however, when you’re filling in another set of codes from the 3rd of 4th ballot to vote on line it also looks odd. Having multiple votes is a pretty weird thing, especially when you’re not entirely sure what to do and might vote each way for the sheer devilry of it. In the end, Johann won despite Ken getting more votes in the party member section leading comrade Breslin to despair at a re-run of what’s perceived as the undemocratic foisting of Ed Miliband on the Labour party instead of his brother.

And fair enough the electoral college is undemocratic, unfair and needs to be reformed – the aberration of multiple votes because (in my case) you happen to be a member of the Co-operative Party and the Fabians as well as a party member is just weird. It’s all run by the ERS, they could be tasked with de-duping the names, and all votes could be given equal weight. Great, all for that, one member one vote, democracy in action, that sort of thing.

Presumably then, this would mean that Ken would have won? Well, no. Johann had far more ballots cast for her than any other candidate, and mostly by people who only had one vote – members of the trade unions. The electoral college was put in place to undemocratically disempower some parts of the party against others, but it’s the bits that voted for Johann (and Ed) that were disempowered so rather than winning because of the electoral college it’s more correct to say that they won despite the electoral college. Lallands Peat Worrier goes into some detail on the numbers over in his peaty place.

In order to get the “right” result there’s two ways to go about it. Firstly, Labour could increase the unfairness of the electoral college by putting more weight on the membership and elected members sections, but that hardly gels with the cry of “byzantine and unfair!” so let’s discount that option.

Alternatively we could exclude the individual members of the trade unions from voting. I know it’s a long held dream of the Tories to break the union link, and of the SNP to gather trade union support for themselves, and there’s even some within the Labour party who want to do away with it and it a “modern”, “professional” political party. Why should trade unionists get a say in the running of a political party? It’s not like they started it, it’s not like the party is there to represent working people, it’s not like it’s the parliamentary part of a much wider labour movement and union members an integral part of it.

Oh. Wait.

The union link has changed in the past, it’s been a long time since the days of the block vote for instance, and it needs to change again, most pertinently so that candidates are able to campaign in a meaningful way for their votes – at the moment by and large all people get is a small pamphlet and perhaps an endorsement from the affiliated organisation. The divergence in the way that the party members and the union members vote is interesting and probably hints at something deeper, perhaps related to the changing demography of the affiliated unions relative to the Labour party membership?

As for the canonical SNP members who vote, well, they’d have had to pay good money and swear they supported the Labour party – so well done for lying and ta for the cash. I’m really not sure we’ve got Johann Lamont (let alone Ed Miliband) because of an entryist movement of false flag union members, impressive though the SNP machine is. If people are crowing about getting a ballot for “the enemy” then the best response is probably mild mockery for their vaguely infantile behaviour.

So, wrong leader? Only in the sense that Alex Salmond is the “wrong” First Minister because you’d have preferred somebody else to win, it’s not because of the voting system. Not unless you have a fundamentally different conception of what the Labour party actually is.