Jim yesterday spotted the extraordinary number of spoiled ballots among the trade unions and affiliated organisations. More than 36,000 ballots were wasted — about 14.6 per cent of the votes cast in this section of the electoral college. The reason is that the voters simply failed to tick a box saying they supported Labour.
An absurd rule, I know. But did it make a difference? There was talk last night among some of the Ed Miliband camp suggesting this was an important factor. One aide claimed the campaign had managed to reduce the spoiled ballot rate in the unions backing their man. The ground campaign apparently handed out thousands of “how to vote” cards making clear that they vote wouldn’t count unless they ticked the box at the end. One Ed aide claimed the effort won them up to 6,000 extra votes. If true, it made a big difference to the result. Was it another Florida hanging-chad moment?
Not quite. I cranked up a spreadsheet and I’m afraid there are no big differences between the different unions. There is no reason to think that the uncounted votes split any differently than the votes that were counted. Ed’s big backers — Unison, GMB and Unite — all had disallowance rates of between 14.3 per cent and 15.7 per cent. It is roughly the same as the 14.6 per cent average across all groups.
The one disallowance rate that really stands out is for the BFAWU bakers union, which certainly didn’t rise to the occasion. About a quarter of its votes weren’t counted.