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What is going on with our party elections?
Why couldn’t we have them at the same time as a general election?
I thought the leadership election was cancelled?
But don’t we already have a leader?
Didn’t you say the internal elections would happen this year?
Why are there so many candidates?
When do I get to vote?
What if I have lost my code?
How many people can I vote for?
When will we actually know who won the damn thing?
I still don’t understand what’s going on!
Q. What is going on with our party elections?
A. We were planning to hold elections for party leader and policy committee members earlier this year, because Sophie Walker stood down as leader in May and there are lots of policy committee members who were elected for three years at our first conference - back in 2016.
Then in July this year Boris Johnson became leader of the Conservative party and ever since there has been speculation about a general election. This intensified over the summer, and our Steering Committee - the body that makes strategic decisions about the party between conferences - decided it was too risky to continue with an internal election while so much was going on.
Now that the general election has finally been called, we can reschedule our elections for after the national election.
Q. Why couldn’t we have them at the same time as a general election?
A. During the voting period (when voting is open), candidates are very restricted on what they can say and do for the party. They effectively step down from any official positions within the party so that we aren’t giving one candidate a bigger platform than another.
We need all our officers during a general election to be able to do interviews with press, make decisions and campaign for the party. The Steering Committee decided it was too risky to be without an interim leader or key policy committee representatives during a general election.
Q. I thought the leadership election was cancelled?
A. The leadership election has not been cancelled, in fact the campaigning period for both the elections has been extended. The only thing that was paused was voting. This is now being re-opened in January 2020.
Q. But don’t we already have a leader?
A. In accordance with our party rules, the Steering Committee appointed an interim leader when Sophie stepped down. The interim leader is not permanent, but carries out the key duties of the leader until a leadership election can be held.
Q. Didn’t you say the internal elections would happen this year?
A. When the Steering Committee emailed our members to let them know that voting was postponed, they were clear that they wanted to reschedule the vote as soon as possible and preferably before the end of the year.
To everyone’s surprise when the government asked for an election, the Labour party and other opposition parties said no. This has never happened before because it is normally up to the government to decide when to call an election. But in 2011 new legislation was brought in (the Fixed Term Parliament Act) that requires the agreement of the House of Commons before a general election can happen. The combination of a hung parliament (where no single party has a majority), the complexities of Brexit and the 2011 Act has meant this period of uncertainty has dragged on much longer than anyone expected.
Now that we know the general election will happen in December, we have rescheduled our leadership and Policy Committee elections for as soon as reasonably possible after that.
Q. Why are there so many candidates?
A. There are three candidates for leader, but two of them are running on a job-share basis.
There were twelve open positions on the policy committee, and several candidates are contesting some of those positions. For three of the roles, however, there were no candidates so no one will be elected to these roles until party conference.
Q. When do I get to vote?
A. A company called UK Engage is running the elections for us, so that it is completely independent. UK Engage will email you in January with a unique code and a link to their website so that you can cast your vote for your preferred candidates.
Meanwhile, if you want to see who the candidates are and what they’ve got to say, you visit our elections website at https://nom.ukevote.uk/wep.
Q. What if I have lost my code?
A. You can email UK Engage and ask them to resend your unique code . If you can’t find your email, please check your junk or spam folder.
Q. How many people can I vote for?
A. You can vote for one candidacy per role. For the policy committee this is one person per role, for the leadership election this is either the single candidate for leader or the two candidates who want to job-share the role.
Q. When will we actually know who won the damn thing?
A. Voting ends just before midnight on Monday 27th January 2020. As soon as the votes have been counted and checked, we will email members with the results - by Wednesday 29th January at the latest.
Q. I still don’t understand what’s going on!
A. We have made these short videos to try and explain. If after watching these you still have questions, please contact the Returning Officers (the two people in charge of making sure the elections are clear and fair).