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This note sets out the current rules for the election of the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. It briefly outlines the development of the rules and includes details of the results of Labour Leadership elections since 1922.


If a vacancy arises:

A candidate needs to be nominated by 10% of the total number of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and either:

    • 5% of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs)
    • Or
    • At least three affiliate organisations (two of which must be trade unions) which represent a minimum of 5% of the affiliated membership.

If an incumbent is challenged:

  • A candidate needs to be nominated by 20% of the combined total of MPs prior to the annual session of Party conference.

An incumbent is not required to be nominated and is automatically on the ballot.


The General Secretary of the Party is the returning officer.

The precise voting eligibility criteria are defined by Labour’s National Executive Committee.

The freeze date for eligibility to vote shall be not less than 2 weeks after the approved timetable is announced and not less than 3 weeks before the deadline for receipt of ballot papers, with no qualifying period of membership prior to the freeze date

Eligible party members, affiliates and registered supporters each have one ballot.

Voting is by preferential ballot. Candidates are ranked 1,2,3 etc.

The winner must secure over 50% of the valid votes counted. If no winner achieves over 50% on the first count, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the second preferences from their voters are redistributed. If no candidate receives over 50% of the votes after second preferences are taken into account subsequent counts are conducted, with the lowest polling candidate eliminated and their ballots redistributed in accordance with second (or third, fourth etc) preferences from their electors’ ballots.

2020 contest  

Following Labour’s defeat at the 2019 General Election, Jeremy Corbyn announced that he would stand down as leader of the Labour Party early in 2020, once a contest to replace had been completed. The NEC announced the timetable for the 2020 contest on 6 January 2020.

Sir Keir Starmer was elected as the new party leader with 56% of the vote on the first round of voting. Rebecca Long-Bailey received 28% and Lisa Nandy received 16%. Angela Rayner was elected as the Deputy Leader of the Party. On the first round of voting she polled 42% and was elected on the third round of voting.

The results of the leadership election are shown in the table below.

Labour leadership election 2020: result
  Members %   Registered supporters %   Affiliated supporters %   Total %
Keir Starmer 225,135 56.1   10,228 78.6   40,417 53.1   275,780 56.2
Rebecca Long-Bailey 117,598 29.3   650 5.0   16,970 22.3   135,218 27.6
Lisa Nandy 58,788 14.6   2,128 16.4   18,681 24.6   79,597 16.2
Total 401,521     13,006     76,068     490,595  
Eligible electorate 552,835     13,626     217,690     784,151  

Source: Labour Party website

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