It is not unusual for an organisation to have a cut-off date for new members voting on internal matters, and Labour’s NEC could have avoided this legal action with a fairly simple line on its membership form.
Members are suing the NEC because of a line on the Labour website’s ‘join’ form that said, “You will be eligible to vote in leadership elections”.
This was what the site said on July 12, when the NEC ruled that only people who joined before January 12 could vote in this year’s election, and the decision means that everybody who joined in the six months between the two dates had been unilaterally disenfranchised, without any warning.
That is why the legal action has been launched.
And the line missing from the form, that could have prevented the litigation? After the word “elections”, add “if you joined more than six months before the date an election is called”.
It has been suggested that the disenfranchisement means Labour has taken £4.5 million in membership subscriptions illegally.
The lawsuit appears to be supported by Jeremy Corbyn, who was not at the NEC meeting when the decision was taken. It was not on the agenda and This Writer understands that he and two other NEC members, who support him, had left.
He told the Sunday Mirror: “I’m very concerned. We haven’t heard the end of this. A lot of people joined the party in the past six months and will be extremely annoyed. They joined because they want to be involved in the party and they’re not being allowed to.”
It seems that Mr Corbyn cannot be blamed for this latest example of a split in the Labour Party. It is something the ruling NEC caused all by itself.
Labour is being sued by a group of its members over the decision to exclude 130,000 people who joined the party since January from being able to vote in its leadership contest.
Harrison Grant, a London law firm, issued proceedings against Labour and its general secretary, Iain McNicol, on behalf of the members, who are crowdfunding to pay for their action.
In a statement, the group said: “We have called on the party to reconsider its decision, but it has not proven forthcoming. We believe the only way we can retrieve our rights is by taking the party to court.
“Harrison Grant Solicitors have issued proceedings on our behalf and we hope it will be heard very soon.”
Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) decided to allow only members who joined before 12 January to vote in the contest between Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader, and Owen Smith.
Anyone who joined afterwards can now only vote if they have paid £25 to be a registered supporter, or if they are registered through an affiliated union.
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