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The right-wing Labour leadership has put itself in a proper dilemma, thanks to the candidacy – and popularity – of Jeremy Corbyn.
Look at the denial of comedian Mark Steel’s application to become a Labour supporter – and vote for Corbyn – because he does not “support Labour values” – this is a man who wrote newspaper articles in favour of Labour, doorstepped members of the public to encourage them to vote Labour, and actually voted Labour himself.
It seems that, because he admitted he’d vote for the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas if he was in her Brighton Pavilion constituency, he’s out. That’s a comment in favour of a person, not a party.
Is his endorsement of Ms Lucas then really the reason he got the boot? Or is it because he supports Mr Corbyn now?
That is the question that will be worrying many dedicated Labour supporters who have signed up in good faith, in order to do the same.
Now, the Labour leadership has said it will remove “infiltrators'” votes, even after they have been cast. The Daily Mirror reports:
The party will carry on vetting people right up until the September 10 voting deadline to stop ‘stooges’ and ‘entryists’ taking over the race.
Insiders say that means they will tell independent vote-counters to strip out individual ballots if they suspect foul play – for example if a Tory stooge mocks Labour by posting their paper on Twitter.
This plan is wide-open to abuse. What’s to stop right-wingers, neoliberals, Blairites (or whatever else you want to call them) from looking at votes, thinking, “These people voted for Corbyn – they’re disqualified”, and finding a reason for the decision later?
Conversely, there is nothing to stop Corbyn-supporting voters from making that accusation right now. The decision brings the election into disrepute.
The decision has been attacked by the Electoral Reform Society campaign group – which partly owns the company running the election – as it said Labour should delay sending out ballot papers for a few days.
This would have been a better choice – and it counts against Labour’s leaders that they did not support it.
The current system of weeding out members of other parties is working perfectly well. This Writer took part in the process, here in Mid Wales, and managed to identify Conservatives and Greens who were trying to skew the process.
I also recognised the names of many genuine Labour supporters who will certainly vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Their applications have been accepted and their votes will be counted.
By the time the count takes place, though, will the entire process have been discredited beyond redemption?
I am seriously considering writing a letter to Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNichol, about this issue. Perhaps other Labour members, of long-standing in the party, may wish to do the same.
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