Leader: Jeremy Corbyn.

Leader: Jeremy Corbyn.

No.

Or at least, if Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee votes in secret on whether Mr Corbyn can be excluded from a leadership ballot, it seems unlikely the decision would carry any constitutional weight.

The New Statesman‘s political editor, George Eaton, tweeted earlier this evening (Sunday) that “Labour NEC members tell me they think they can keep Corbyn off the ballot – if vote is secret.”

But a quick flick through the Labour Party’s rule book reveals no information about conditions in which the NEC is permitted to carry out a secret vote. I’m prepared to be corrected on this but it seems that, in a matter of this importance, every member of that organisation should be held accountable for his or her decision.

You see, when they vote on such matters, they aren’t voting as individuals but as representatives of every member of the Labour Party – they are voting on members’ behalf – and they are voting on the rules by which all members must abide. Responsible members must judge their performance by their decisions – and can’t do that without transparency.

Otherwise, for all we know, these people may say one thing in public and do something completely different in private, in the knowledge that they cannot be held accountable for their actions. If they want to behave like that, they should have joined the Parliamentary Labour Party, of course.

Branches, CLPs, the PLP, the EPLP, and trade unions all have elected officials who vote in public at all levels to ensure accountability.

So what possible reason could NEC members put forward that is strong enough to persuade the Labour Party at large to let them keep the vote secret?

None.

Mr Eaton has not provided any information about which NEC members made that suggestion, even though This Writer – among others – has asked him for such confirmation. As a journalist, he doesn’t have to name his sources – but of course that leaves the rest of us free to interpret this as a stunt to create fear and distrust of the NEC among supporters of Mr Corbyn.

But now it is more likely to create distrust of George Eaton.

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