Tom Watson has a good thread running today in which he asks his readers to list Labour's deputy leadership candidates in order of preference. This will of course be crucial to the outcome of an election in which support still seems pretty well spread between the six candidates.
I did think of responding to Tom's post on his own blog but I've decided to do it here. My preferences will go as follows:
I have already explained here and here why I will be voting for Jon Cruddas as first preference, and why I won't be voting for some of the others. But since he is currently the favourite, I will add a word about Hilary Benn whose support seems to be largely based on (a) his family name, and (b) the fact that he seems a nice chap.
To my mind, Benn stands for very little in this election, besides the fact that he is neither a card-carrying Blairite nor someone who wants to disown much of the Government's legacy. This is not enough for me, and I agree with Tom Watson that a would-be deputy leader has to say more about the direction they would like the party to go in.
So much for what I want to happen. What I expect to happen is that Benn will indeed win, in a final run-off against Cruddas who will benefit from the early elimination of Hain and Harman. It follows from this that I do not expect my second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth preferences to have the slightest bearing on the election at all.
This is how I see the ballots panning out:
1st Ballot: 1 Benn 2 Johnson 3 Harman 4 Cruddas 5 Hain 6 Blears. Blears' votes transfer mainly to Johnson.
2nd Ballot: 1 Johnson 2 Benn 3 Harman 4 Cruddas 5 Hain. Hain's votes transfer mainly to Cruddas but some to Benn.
3rd Ballot: 1 Benn 2 Johnson 3 Cruddas 4 Harman. Harman's votes transfer mainly to Cruddas.
4th Ballot: 1 Benn 2 Cruddas 3 Johnson. Johnson's votes transfer mainly to Benn.
5th Ballot: 1 Benn 2 Cruddas, by a margin of about 55-45.