A leadership election was held on 21 July 1994 for the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, after the sudden death of incumbent leader John Smith. The 1994 election would ultimately decide not only Labour's new leader, but also the next Prime Minister. The election was the first held under the new leadership election rules that had been introduced in 1993, which included an element of One member, one vote. The poll for leader was held simultaneously with a deputy leadership vote.
Margaret Beckett had been the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and following Smith's death was serving as acting leader; she was the only female Labour MP ever to stand for the leadership of the Party (and remained so until Diane Abbott announced her candidacy on 20 May 2010). Tony Blair was, at the time of his candidature, the Shadow Home Secretary. It has been widely speculated that Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown did not stand due to a pact agreed with Blair at the Granita restaurant. In a telephone conversation with Blair, Roy Hattersley informed Blair that Gordon Brown would have to "wait in line" and that Blair should stand for the leadership. Robin Cook, the Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry stated that he would not run, as he did not believe he was attractive enough to the general electorate and that this would damage the party at the next election. John Prescott, who had stood in the 1992 deputy leadership election and lost to Beckett, stood again for both Leader and Deputy Leader.
The "electoral college" system that had been introduced meant that the votes of members of affiliated groups (mostly trades unions), the members of constituency parties, and Labour MPs were all weighted equally.
Tony Blair won, and led the party to its first general election victory for 23 years at the 1997 election. Prescott won the deputy leadership poll, and went on to become Deputy Prime Minister during Blair's premiership. Beckett would also serve both in the Shadow Cabinet and then the Cabinet throughout Blair's term as leader.
The next leadership election to take place occurred when Blair resigned in 2007; this election was won by Gordon Brown, who ran uncontested.
How Each MP Voted
- ^ Waller, Robert; Criddle, Byron (1996). The Almanac of British Politics (5th ed.). London: Routledge. pp. xxx – xxxvi. ISBN 978-0-415-11805-7.