Peter Hoskin

The curious race for nominations

The curious race for nominations
Text settings

One of the mildly diverting features of the Labour leadership contest so far is this nominations counter on the party website.  Ed Miliband was the first to pass the crucial 33 nominations barrier yesterday, while David Miliband managed it earlier today.  Ed Balls is still lagging behind on 14, Andy Burnham has 8, and poor John McDonnell and Diane Abbott both have none.  Yep, the excitement is reaching fever pitch.

There's one curious feature to it all, though, highlighted by Danny Finkelstein earlier.  Why have some of the candidates – or their nominators – been holding back on their nominations?  David Miliband, for instance, has considerably more than 37 backers, and could surely have crossed the 33 nominations mark days ago.  And, even with his – ahem – charms, I doubt Ed Balls is stuck on 14.

One theory is that the candidates would prefer to maintain a steady stream of nominations, in the name of keeping up momentum.  Or perhaps they're waiting to get all 33 nominations lined up before striking.  But, if so, it's starting to look counterproductive: Ed Miliband's charge has put the others in the position of playing catch-up – and rather desperately in some cases.