High court to decide whether new members may vote in Labour leadership election

The members denied a vote are seen as likely to be more supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

The members denied a vote are considered more likely to be supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

The false advertising/breach of contract issue is huge in the Labour Party, as the decision to restrict voting in the leader election to members who joined before January 12 excluded 130,000 people.

Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, says party rules entitle it to implement the cut-off date, which the NEC is able do as part of the election timetable – but there is no such provision in the rule book.

The National Executive Committee decided on July 12 that only members who had joined before 12 January could vote – while party leader Jeremy Corbyn and two of his supporters were out of the room.

Mr Corbyn has since expressed his concern over the decision to exclude members – most of whom, it is believed, wish to vote for him.

The party did  allow newly registered supporters, a lesser category of member, to vote in the election at a cost of £25 – but, again, this is problematic.

Many of the 130,000 who joined after January 12 are also among the 185,000 who paid to become registered supporters – in effect paying twice for the privilege of having a vote.

If the decision on Monday goes in favour of the new members, then they may – rightly – demand back the money they had to fork out in supporters’ fees, at a cost of millions to the party.

All because a minority of members wanted to make it harder for Jeremy Corbyn to win.

The high court will rule on Monday on whether 130,000 people who recently became Labour party members will be allowed to vote in the upcoming leadership election, after a lawyer representing a group of them argued they had been unfairly excluded from the process.

The five new members, making the case on behalf of a bigger contingent who have crowdfunded their legal fees, are challenging Labour over contract law. They say the party’s national executive committee (NEC) was wrong to decide in July that only members who joined at least six months before could vote.

Stephen Cragg QC, representing the five, told the court that Labour’s rulebook made no provision for such a distinction and did not give the NEC powers to implement one.

He also argued that when the members joined, the Labour website and other communications said they would be “a key part of the team”, and thus eligible to vote in any leadership election. No prior leadership battle had seen a retrospective cut-off date for membership to qualify for a vote, he said.

Cragg told the judge, Mr Justice Justice Hickinbottom, that the members had been misled. “They paid their dues and found to their surprise they had been excluded from the present election,” he said.

“We say they have been wrongly excluded by breach of contract from the right to vote. We say there is nothing in the Labour party rule book that suggests a limit on the members who can take part in the leadership election.”

Source: High court to rule on new members’ vote in Labour leadership ballot | Politics | The Guardian


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15 thoughts on “High court to decide whether new members may vote in Labour leadership election

  1. Mags

    I joined on the 19th July, and this was my ‘welcome’ email….
    “Thank you for registering as a Labour Supporter, and paying your fee to participate in our selection process to choose Labour’s Leader.
    As soon as your application has been processed, we will contact you again to confirm your Registered Supporter status, and with further information about the timetable for the ballot and how you can cast your vote.”

  2. tom

    And we’ve all seen them and heard them shooting “we are in democracy” ” he was voted democraticaly” soon we get rid of them the better for everybody, no other party will want them, they have to create one ha!ha!ha! if it is going like Mr Smith last night, we are all smiles! ha!ha!ha!
    Mr Smith did not need a shower after the histing he got douched by Mr Corbyn ha!ha!ha! when is the next one it is better than corry or eastenders!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. David Woods

    Now the question is; How hard will the NEC fight this and to what cost to the Labour Party?
    They have already shown crass disrespect to all the new Labour members who have signed up, paid their dues, many paid over the odds to have a vote – they even had that stolen away from them!

    All because they fear they may vote for the man who has rejuvenated the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn!

    Why are the people at the NEC ‘concerned’ that the Labour Party is being led by a popular leader; a man who has swelled Party membership by 100,000’s!

    Just ‘where’ do their loyalties lay!

    1. tom

      @ David Woods, it is all down to money and personnel interest. They are good to tell you what you want to hear but they will never deliver as it is against their DNA.

  4. Malcolm Mclean

    There is no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn will win and perhaps the Labour Party can then re-assess the type of future candidates it wants to put forward to become PLP members of Parliament. The membership they have tried to rob of their right to vote for leader will be in a position to select/ re-select who they choose for their parliamentary candidates.

  5. Jane Owens

    Whilst I admire Jeremy Corbyn and will vote for him in the leadership ballot, I do not believe that it is the man himself that the ‘political class’ fear so much as what he has managed to bring about in relation to the voting public. We are witnessing a sea-change in a newly enthused and large portion of eligible voters. Ever since the Thatcher years in government, apathy has reigned supreme and many voters have adopted an individualistic and self-interested approach to politics. This attitude pleases governments because it can cause the population to become unquestioning and easier to control. People are supporting Jeremy Corbyn because he has made them realise that it is they who can bring change and reduce the inequality in the UK. The fact that we can all so easily connect via the internet and share thoughts and ideas, makes it difficult for the ‘right’ and ‘centre right’ to keep referring to us disparagingly as the ‘loony left’, a sort of minority group of anarchists! We are now aware of just how many share our views and how effective is our combined voting power.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I agree very strongly with that.
      Taking it into account, it seems to me to be lunacy that some in the Labour Party want to kill this newly-growing political awareness by trying to exclude these people from the political process – trying to put them off.
      It is this attitude that could give the Tories their next string of victories – wins the population of our country cannot afford.

  6. Shaun

    I’m no lawyer, let alone a barrister, so it’s quite possible some obvious point of law is not known to me. That noted, it seems that what the NEC did, would not stand up to a legal challenge, at the least, expensive refunds seem quite certain. If the matter goes against the NEC, their competence will need to be questioned, and some may see their competence as a good explanation as to why Labour lost two General Elections.

  7. mohandeer

    “The National Executive Committee decided on July 12 that only members who had joined before 12 January could vote – while party leader Jeremy Corbyn and two of his supporters were out of the room. Mr Corbyn has since expressed his concern over the decision to exclude members – most of whom, it is believed, wish to vote for him.”

    Did Owen Smith, at any point express “his concerns over the decision to exclude members”, I’ll answer the question for you since it was rhetoric. Than answer is “NO” he has no concerns at the exclusion of Labour Party Members.

    Doesn’t that speak volumes about his thinking regarding the membership?

  8. Eevee

    This farcical debarcle of Labour NEC is completely of their own design. They decided they wanted to retain the New Labour status quo and did not factor the legal, administrative costs of maintaining it.

    Benn et al are so clever and foresighted. What other unknowns unknowns have they missed? Maybe they can contribute a portion of their salary to deal with these unknowns, instead of the Labour Party coughing it from their coffers.

  9. Mary Marsden

    I think a sentence is wrongly worded,( unless I’m mistaken). It reads :
    If the decision on Monday goes in favour of new members then they can rightly demand their money back.
    Shouldn’t this read : If the decision goes against the new members?

Comments are closed.