Labour was wrong to exclude new members from leadership election, court rules

The leadership contest is between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith [Image: PA].
The leadership contest is between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith [Image: PA].
Mrs Mike already wants the money back that she paid to become a ‘registered supporter’.

She was one of many thousands of new members who joined the scheme – costing a massive £25 – because it was the only way to get a vote in the leadership election after Labour ruled anyone who joined after January 12 could not.

The result of this court case means she paid that money unnecessarily – and she really couldn’t afford to pay it in the first place (many believe the cost was a sly attempt to put poor, Corbyn-supporting, members off while encouraging richer people who would vote against him).

She is owed a refund and an apology.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom agreed with the five new members who brought the case, that Labour’s refusal to grant them a vote amounted to “breach of contract”.

He said at the time each of the five joined the party “it was the common understanding, as reflected in the rule book, that, if they joined the party prior to the election process commencing, as new members they would be entitled to vote in any leadership contest”.

Labour has appealed against the decision, and that case could be heard as soon as Thursday (it needs to be soon because ballot papers have to be printed and sent out by August 22, which is only a fortnight away).

The result is due to be declared on September 24 – although Mr Corbyn has appealed for it to be brought forward a day to prevent it clashing with Labour’s Women’s Conference.

It will be interesting to learn Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to this development. It is generally believed that he will gain most support from the inclusion of more than 126,000 extra members (increasing the voter base by around one-third) – and he was opposed to the exclusion in the first place.

New Labour Party members have won a High Court battle over their legal right to vote in the leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.Labour’s NEC had ruled that party members who joined after 12 January could not vote in the contest.

The group that brought the legal challenge argued this amounted to a breach of contract, saying they had “paid their dues” for a right to vote.

Labour is to appeal the court’s ruling. The case could be heard on Thursday.

Ballot papers are due to be sent out on 22 August, with the outcome of the leadership election scheduled for 24 September.

Source: Labour members win leadership vote case – BBC News

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23 Thoughts to “Labour was wrong to exclude new members from leadership election, court rules”

  1. Phil Woodford

    It’s amazing how the ruling-class establishment keeps passing down judgements favourable to Jez. I can’t imagine why.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Because the judicial system still has a duty to uphold the law. It has nothing to do with the Establishment and everything to do with making a judgement that is right in law, as you know very well.
      You should have known you couldn’t get away with that statement on this site!

      1. So if the decision is upheld on Thursday do we get a refund ?

      2. Mike Sivier

        I certainly hope so.

      3. Roy Beiley

        Well said Mike. Some people still confuse the powers of the Executive (govt) with those of the Judiciary which looks more and more like the last bastion of democracy.

      4. As Far as I’m concerned, this is the right decision. I think that the people concerned should not only receive a refund, they should have compensation as tangible recognition for the inconvenience and interest for the loss of the use of the monies they used to pay their “voting tax”

      5. John

        You’re dealing with a Tory, Mike…. what do you expect?

      6. Shaun

        And to be completely fair, the breach of contract is so obvious that a ten year old child could pass judgement on the case. Or to put it another way, the NEC were so stupid in undertaking the action (i.e. preventing new members from voting: based on nothing more legally justifiable than a whim) that no ‘establishment’ member (which, as has been noted, is irrelevant) of the judiciary, could not do other than find a breach of contract. It does make you wonder on which planet some of these Blairite followers are on.
        Phil Woodford, your comment does you no credit whatsoever, as its almost as poorly thought through as it is irrelevant. It’s well below the standard of argument you usually put forward – perhaps it was a touch of that irony that sometimes does not work so well over the internet :-).

      7. Phil Woodford

        Of course my comment was somewhat tongue in cheek. I am just intrigued that the left fails to see the irony here. During the 1980s, a big theme of Jez’s spiritual mentor Tony Benn, was that the courts would side were part of the establishment and side with the ruling class. It used to be a common refrain that Labour and trade unions could not expect fair treatment from the courts. A major example in the 1980s was Lord Denning’s judgement against Ken Livingstone’s public transport policy, Fares Fair.

        Today, the argument seems to be that the courts have no political role and simply uphold the rules!

        Once again, you couldn’t make it up.

      8. Mike Sivier

        “Was that the courts would side were part of the establishment and side with the ruling class” – what on Earth is that supposed to mean?
        Please unscramble your comment.

      9. Phil Woodford

        Apologies – that was a bit garbled, as typed quickly on a phone. The contention on the left historically was that the ‘bourgeois’ courts would side with the ruling class. Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone argued that judges had agendas and were not politically neutral. So when they side with Corbyn, should we not assume they have their class interests at heart?

      10. Mike Sivier

        No, because it’s a contradiction of the initial claim. Why would they suddenly switch sides from the right to the left?

      11. Phil Woodford

        The establishment is delighted for Corbyn to remain in place! It means permanent Tory government.

      12. Mike Sivier

        In your opinion, which I notice you are happy to present without a scrap of supporting evidence.

  2. This should never have gone to court there was no way they could ban people that had become members the people that did this should be Reprimanded and not allowed to take part in the election

  3. Sheesh! I was banned from voting in the ballot that Mr Corbyn won with almost 60% to become leader last August.

    General Secretary Ian McNicol proclaimed from on high that my “aims and values didn’t agree with Labour’s”.

    If Labour’s appeal fails, which I expect it to, I’ll be following this up. I did prop the party up for 30+ years via the political levy after all.

    So I too have paid my dues!

  4. John

    The Labour Party included a specific commitment to newly joining members that they would be able to vote in any leadership contests.
    Withdrawing that commitment is not permissible under contract law.
    Party members should not be penalised due to incompetence of the coup plotters.
    The coup plotters are out-of-touch with party members and simple aspects of law.
    They are not up to the job they were originally selected for and should leave.

  5. David Woods

    Of course, now they’ve lost it will all have been Corbyn’s idea in the first place!
    Which they were all dead against naturally!

  6. Why the hell are Labour appealing this when Corbyn is the leader of the party?

    1. Phil Woodford

      Probably, Chris, because we haven’t yet got to the stage where the Dear Leader *is* the party. It’s only a matter of time, obviously.

  7. I’m glad to hear about this, and hope like anything that the judgement stays on the side of the new party members as I, too, scraped together the £25 so they wouldn’t do me out of the vote I was promised I could make, when I joined the Labour Party a month back!
    It was Jeremy Corbyn’s ideas for our future that drew me into politics for the first time in my life, and the MP’s who have been dragging the party, kicking and screaming, into Tory-Lite, should be voted out of their places as soon as possible at the next elections – let real people have a chance to represent real people, instead of the MP’s that don’t have a clue!

    Can I ask you Mike? As the present Labour Leader, why couldn’t Jeremy Corbyn halt all of these changes? The judge has called them illegal (which we all knew they were), so surely Jeremy knew this? If so, why didn’t he have the power to do something about it before we all spent money we couldn’t afford?

    1. Mike Sivier

      It wouldn’t be up to him, as he must abide by party rules, same as every other member.
      The decisions would have to be made by the NEC, of which he is just one member.
      The trouble with that is, the decision to appeal against the court’s ruling does not appear to have been made by the NEC. I’m not sure what is the source of Iain McNicol’s authority in this matter.
      Anyone?

      1. John

        Extract from 2016 Labour Party Rule Book:-

        Chapter 1

        Constitutional rules

        Clause VII.

        Party officers and statutory officers

        C. General Secretary

        i. There shall be a General Secretary of the Party who shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions set out in procedural rule Chapter 4.II.4.A below. The General Secretary shall act as secretary to the NEC.

        ii. For the avoidance of doubt, wherever in this rule book or upon instruction or delegation by the NEC, or a committee or sub-committee thereof, the General Secretary has a function to discharge, she or he may delegate the discharge of such function to such appropriate officer or designated representative of the Party as she or he shall see fit. Further, the General Secretary shall be deemed always to have had the power so to delegate.

        Chapter 4

        Elections of national officers of the Party and national committees

        Clause II.

        Procedural rules for elections for national officers of the Party

        4. Election of General Secretary

        A. The General Secretary shall be elected by Party conference on the recommendation of the NEC and shall be an ex-officio member of Party conference. S/he shall devote her or his whole time to the work of the Party and shall not be eligible to act as a parliamentary candidate. S/he shall remain in office so long as her/his work gives satisfaction to the NEC and Party conference. Should a vacancy in the office occur, for whatever reason, between Party conferences, the NEC shall have full power to fill the vacancy subject to the approval of Party conference.

        As can be seen, the Party General Secretary has a great deal of power, especially if they can command support from among a majority of the 31 NEC members.

        Usually, they resign and are replaced by a person receiving the recommendation of the NEC and subsequently endorsed by Annual Party Conference (APC).

        What needs to happen is for one or more CLPs or TU branches to submit an emergency motion to APC to dismiss McNicol as party secretary and remove the 6 NEC members on the committee who have decided to waste party money and bring the party into disrepute by pursuing an unlawful legal action against the interests of the remaining 500,000+ party members.

        Any volunteers for taking action against McNicol and the NEC 6?

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