Hot on the heels of publication by This Blog of claims that Owen Smith supporters conspired to hijack Blaenau Gwent’s nomination in the Labour leadership election – on the advice of Welsh Labour, comes a claim that the GMB’s nomination may also have been rigged.
A reader contacted This Writer to point out that a tiny seven per cent of the union’s 640,000 members voted to nominate either candidate, and the margin of victory for Mr Smith was just 1.3 per cent of the membership.
But many members complained that they had not received a ballot paper, voting information for many others is likely to have been sent to invalid email addresses, and even more may have gone into spam folders or been rejected as junk mail by email clinet programmes.
If those people had been able to vote, Mr Smith’s majority might have been swept away completely.
The GMB’s support was trumpeted as a major indicator of public feeling against Mr Corbyn during the leadership election, but it represented the opinion of less than 26,000 people – around four per cent of the union’s members.
Couple this with the claims about Blaenau Gwent and suddenly it seems we should be asking whether support for Owen Smith was grossly over-inflated by people with something to gain from wasting the time of everybody in the Labour Party.
Here are some facts about the GMB vote, courtesy of the Huffington Post:
The GMB’s ballot was contracted to Electoral Reform Services (ERS) which guaranteed the integrity of the voting process, based upon membership data passed to them by GMB. However, electronic votes were sent to those members where the union holds an email address, and postal votes to the others. This proved somewhat problematic, with many members saying they did not receive a ballot paper: bulk email systems are known to have a relatively low rate of response and many email addresses may not be valid, others may go into spam folders, or be rejected. While there is no reason to think that members failing to get a ballot paper would statistically favour either one of the candidates, the background level of dissatisfaction caused by some members failing to get a vote has unfortunately given legs to rumours of entire groups of members assumed to be left-wing not getting ballots.
Out of the 640,000 GMB members only 43,419 voted, about 7% of those eligible. Owen Smith getting 25,969 votes, and Jeremy Cobyn 17450 votes. The margin of victory for Smith is a mere 1.3% of GMB’s membership. On such a margin, there is no clear mandate for the union to support either candidate, especially as anecdotal evidence suggests a majority for Corbyn among the lay activists, whereas the consultative ballot addressed the whole membership.
The same article made a very sharp point of opinion about the candidate who was constantly touted as the man Labour needed if it was every going to win another election:
Owen Smith, the candidate who promises continuity with the strategy that lost the last two general elections, the strategy that lost Scotland, and who is backed by John McTernan and Alastair Campbell, represents a retreat into a comfort zone for a party habituated to defeat, a party unwilling to adapt to how society has changed since 1997.
Mr Smith – and his supporters – must have known this.
So can we please now kill the lie that Corbyn can’t win?
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