Labour leadership Q&A: How does the voting system work? When will we hear the result? Who were the people who decided the party's future?

All you need to know about how the events will unfold today

Matt Dathan
Saturday 12 September 2015 09:22 BST
Labour leadership candidates from left, Jeremy Corbyn, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, and Andy Burnham, pose for the media at the end of the Labour party leadership final debate
Labour leadership candidates from left, Jeremy Corbyn, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, and Andy Burnham, pose for the media at the end of the Labour party leadership final debate

Labour’s bitter leadership election will finally come to an end before midday this morning after 90 days of campaigning, 29 debates and countless accusations thrown between the four candidates.

Jeremy Corbyn is widely expected to romp home to an astonishing victory – 102 days after he scraped onto the ballot paper with 10 seconds to spare and was given odds as high as 200/1 to win the contest.

But who are the voters who have decided the fate of the Labour party for the next five years, how does the party’s alternative voting system work and when can we expect the final result on Saturday?

Follow our live blog here

Who were the voters?

Of the 553,954 people who were given a say in the election, 54 per cent are full-party members, 26 per cent are trade union members and 20 per cent are people are registered supporters who paid £3 to get a vote.

The party has said it has kicked out 4,500 people as part of their vetting process to kick out so-called entryists – members or supporters of rival political parties who the party have ruled do not agree with the aims and rules of the Labour party.

Can Jeremy Corbyn pull off a victory that would have been inconceivable just a few months ago?

Who will be the first to find out the result?

Early on Saturday morning, Iain McNicol, the returning officer and Labour's General Secretary, will become the first person to discover the identity of Labour’s next leader.

He will “press the button” on a computer programme which will process around 500,000 votes cast and calculate the final result.

Within a few seconds, he will know the result, but while the result will take just a few moments to emerge, the system that Labour has used to elect its next leader will remain under scrutiny for much longer.

Mr McNicol will reveal the results to the candidates shortly before the event starts at 11am. All eyes will be on the four candidates for signs of their reaction to the result, and which one of them is going through their victory speech notes.

How does the voting system work?

The party uses an alternative voting system - each voter had to place the four candidates in order of preference.

If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, the candidate that got the least first preferences getting eliminated and their supporters' second preferences votes are redistributed until one candidate achieves an overall majority.

How will the votes be announced?

Mr McNicol will announce each round of voting in order - revealing the split between each segment of the electorate, announcing which candidate is eliminated in each round and how their second preferences are relocated.

The divisions will be instantly visible on the massive screens at the QEII Conference Centre in London where the result will be announced in front of an audience of around 1,000 Labour members.

When will we know who the next Labour leader is?

Between 11.30am and 12pm. Firstly we will hear the result of the deputy leadership contest, which is being contested by five candidates: Tom Watson, the clear favourite, Stella Creasy, Caroline Flint, Angela Eagle and Ben Bradshaw.

The voting system for the deputy leadership works in the same way as the main leadership race. We should know the new deputy leader by around 11.30 and the new leader should be announced around 11.45.

Where is it all taking place?

At the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, opposite Westminster Abbey in central London, just a stone's throw away from the Houses of Parliament.

And where can I follow the results?

The best place to keep up-to-date with the latest news, announcements and reaction is on The Independent's live blog, of course, but you can also watch the action live on BBC 2.

What happens after the announcement?

Mayhem. The new leader will do a round of media interviews, which will be followed by reaction from all sides of the political spectrum.

On Sunday the new leader will appear on the flagship current affairs programme The Andrew Marr show.

Privately he or she will be hastily putting together their new shadow cabinet, with reports that a Jeremy Corbyn front-bench team could take as long as three or four days to finalise as he tries to persuade some of his political opponents in the party to join his team.

The first big test in the House of Commons for the new leader will be Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday 16 September, when they take on David Cameron head-to-head for the first time.

Then it's off to the party conference, where the new leader will attempt to bring together party delegates and, probably more importantly, the party's MPs in a bid to unite the party after a summer of bitter divisions and infighting.

Their life will never be quite the same again.

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