CLP Nominations and Data Validation

Which local parties nominated which candidate for leader?

On April 4th, Labour will announce the results of its leadership election. The victor will become the Leader of the Opposition.

This article looks at nominations by constituency parties, and differences between data sources.

The data

To get on the ballot, 10% (22) of current MPs or MEPs must nominate candidates. This first stage is followed by needing the nominations of:

  • 5% (33) of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs);
  • or three affiliates, two of which must be trade unions, which in total represent at least 5% of affiliated members.

In a welcome step, the Labour Party were publishing nominations for each stage, in both the Labour leadership and deputy leadership contest. These web pages were regularly updated.

Each candidate is listed, with the nominating parties stated by their name.

My original goal was to create a spreadsheet which linked each CLP to its constituency ONS identification number, to help social researchers.

Getting to know your data

When dealing with a data source, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms. Unintended ignorance can be costly for analysis.

One aspect of Labour’s internal structures may not be well-known. Scottish CLPs are aligned to seats in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, not the House of Commons constituencies.

Another problem is a common torment for research, which is that there is no universal naming system for constituencies.

For example, Aaron Bell MP’s seat is called ‘Newcastle under Lyme’ on the Labour website. However, the BBC and House of Commons Library call that seat ‘Newcastle-under-Lyme’. The BBC then label Andrew Morrison MP’s seat ‘Wiltshire South West’. Both Labour and the House of Commons Library change the order, calling the constituency ‘South West Wiltshire’.

Punctuation and ordering differences may seem minor, but wreck havoc when you need exact matching.

Also, there are two CLPs which must be recognised as exceptions, as they do not formally correspond with any single parliamentary constituency:

  • Northern Ireland: LPNI is a regional constituency office. Labour is not registered in Northern Ireland, and does not contest elections.
  • Labour International: a group for Labour members who live abroad.

With that in mind, we should recognise one essential structure of the data.

CLPs can only nominate one leader and one deputy leader.

If we were to create a single list of leader and deputy leader nominations, a CLP should appear at most twice. We can set up a pivot table that counts appearances of each constituency. To aid, highlight those with three or higher.

Initially, I noted ‘Penrith And The Border’ occurred four times. The same was true for ‘Runnymede And Weybridge’. Since the total nominations for each candidate were based on these lists, nominations were over-stated.

Well, that does not seem right.

As the second stage concludes, this issue has been resolved.

My spreadsheet is based on the Labour Party website. The nominations list may be incomplete. My latest update was on 17th February. I have made a single correction to the website data.

As at 17th February, another spreadsheet (which contains much more information than mine) has a higher total number of CLP nominations. The spreadsheet shows 641 nominating CLPs, versus 635 on Labour’s pages. The The six missing constituencies were: Bradford East, Dagenham and Rainham, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Rutherglen, The Cotswolds, and Wolverhampton North East.

Comparing the two, there are 11 constituencies with differences. Along with the six missing seats, there were further five constituencies with an absent leadership nomination. If the ‘CLP nominations’ spreadsheet is correct, then there are still missing constituencies from the Labour Party website.

An earlier version of Labour’s site suggested Ashton-under-Lyne CLP nominated Starmer. The ‘CLP nominations’ spreadsheet lists Long-Bailey as that CLP’s leadership nominee. LabourList, iNews and the New Statesman all state that CLP nominated Long-Bailey for leader. Angela Rayner, the deputy leader candidate, is the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne.

This Facebook post was prior to the nomination on 24th January 2020. (Image: Ashton Under Lyne CLP)

The discrepancy of Ashton-under-Lyne has also been resolved.

The exercise highlights the importance of data validation as part of publication.

The House of Commons Library has briefing papers and spreadsheets for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections and the 2019 General Election. The ONS has also produced experimental statistics for claimant counts by Scottish Parliament constituencies.

This blog looks at the use of statistics in Britain and beyond. It is written by RSS Statistical Ambassador and Chartered Statistician @anthonybmasters.

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