The influences that perverted Appeal Court’s decision on Labour leadership election

160813 mock Labour campaign poster

A mock Labour poster, commenting on the Appeal Court’s decision. It is as if Labour’s NEC had said, as ‘Window on Wallasey’ tweeted: “Please join our party & help us to vote the Tories out. Oh, we’re banning you from voting.”

Was it all about the money?

This Writer has a certain amount of sympathy for the decision that Labour’s National Executive Committee (not the Labour Party – this has been misreported widely) was within its rights to set the conditions under which members may vote in the leadership election.

But there is nothing in the Rule Book granting any right to make retrospective decisions. This, among other important elements, is not mentioned in the judges’ ruling – and that means it is flawed.

We know that around 130,000 people joined Labour between January 12 and July 12 – the date at which, we’re told, 14 members of the NEC decided that they would not be allowed to vote in the election, despite having been told, explicitly, in Labour documentation, that they would.

We also know that the same NEC members arranged a “window of opportunity” for UK citizens to sign on as “registered supporters”, in a two-day period from July 18-20, at a cost of £25 each.

It is widely believed that the price hike (the original supporters’ fee was just £3) was intended to put supporter status beyond the price range of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters, most of whom are believed to be poor. The fact that steps were taken to prohibit schemes providing financial support for these people supports the claim.

Nevertheless, around 185,000 people signed on as “registered supporters”, and many of them are believed to have been new members who joined after January 12.

This means they have paid twice for the privilege of voting in the Labour leadership election – due to mis-selling of the membership by the party’s NEC.

If the decision that the NEC had unlawfully banned new members from voting had been supported, then those people would have been within their rights to demand their money back – meaning a payout of millions of pounds from party funds.

The legal action against the NEC, on the grounds that it had authorised a retrospective change that it had no right to impose, was launched by five Labour members who had joined since January 12 – including one teenager.

The Appeal Court has ruled that they must pay the NEC’s £30,000 court costs – meaning that a 16-year-old youth must now find £6,000.

The result: Labour’s NEC has protected the huge increase in funds it has accumulated through questionable means – while a punitive financial penalty has been imposed on its challengers.

Is this really what these people think Labour should be – all about the money?

Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team has released a statement which is also illuminating:

160813 corbyn statement on appeal rulingThe Appeal Court does not, generally, hear new evidence – yet this one did. One has to wonder why. Perhaps it has something to do with the following information about one of the judges:

160813 appeal court judge Philip Sales QC

So this judge is a former employee of the Labour Party, identifying very strongly with the neoliberal, Blairite side – and now he has overturned a High Court ruling that is generally taken to favour the socialist side. How interesting.

Finally, there’s this, from a retired lawyer:

160813 labour appeal lawyer interpretation

For reference, you can read the judgement here.

“Badly reasoned” and “biased”?

Then, despite the cost, the five new members who responsible for this case should definitely appeal to the Supreme Court.

In addition to the consideration of an argument not heard at the High Court – which is discounted by the retired barrister because it does not explicitly authorise the NEC in the manner assumed, it seems the Appeal Court introduced wording of its own into the judgement that had no place there, used as a precedent an example that cannot be used in such a manner, referred to a “freeze” date when in fact the date was changed, and did not deal with the breach of contract which formed the basis of the entire case.

It is a clear miscarriage of justice and must be corrected. Serious questions are to be asked about the choice of judges, and the decisions they made.

The funds can be found, and the matter would be in the hands of lawyers. So let us hope the new members who launched this case do, indeed, have the endurance to go through with it.

Labour was within its rights to stop new members voting in its leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

It found Labour had the power “to set the criteria for members to be eligible to vote”, effectively reintroducing the voting ban on nearly 130,000 members.

It overturns an earlier High Court ruling that the ban was unlawful.

A spokesman for leader Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign said Friday’s verdict was legally and democratically “wrong”.

Announcing the Court of Appeal’s decision on Friday, Lord Justice Beatson said: “On the correct interpretation of the party rules, the National Executive Committee has the power to set the criteria for members to be eligible to vote in the leadership election in the way that it did.”

The judgement said: “A member’s entitlement to vote in a leadership election is not a product of him or her simply being a member, but is the result of him or her being a member who satisfies the precise eligibility criteria defined by the NEC and any freeze date provisions set by the NEC in the timetable for the election.”

Source: Labour leadership: Party wins appeal against voting rules – BBC News

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36 thoughts on “The influences that perverted Appeal Court’s decision on Labour leadership election

  1. Rusty

    Sounds like a tuck up to me! Goes to show how poor people get f****d over by those with money and power, their friend then puts the boot in! This is why we support jeremy corbyn! Would he ever do anything underhanded like this? As for owen two faced smith, saying more the merrier one day, now it’s nothing but silence……

  2. Roland Laycock

    Sounds like the tory judiciary as gone against Democracy and The Blarits have got there wish and we have the cheek to call other countries about there Democracy

  3. David

    I’m still in the party, but ashamed of much that is happening now. I’d just like a party which would bring the “commanding heights of the economy” (Nye Bevan) into public control, or at least make sure that our economy is regulated – not regulated to death, but part of a system that plays fairly. I’m not against private enterprise as such. Private enterprise does some things better than a state controlled body, but not things such as running power, water, rail and road transport, road building and other areas. Surely our Labour Party could be thinking along these not too radical lines?

    I’m reminded a bit of Philip Larkin’s lines from This Be the Verse:

    “They **** you up your mum and dad./ They may not mean to, but they do. . .”
    Perhaps we’re just looking at daddy Blair’s legacy. History is showing him to have the reverse Midas touch.

    1. Kenneth Billis

      I tend to take the view that if a service or activity matters then it should be under public control. Anything which would not cause serious problems if fouled up or lost can be left to the private sector.

  4. Catherine Cooper

    Not to worry, we have already crowd funded over £84,000 and we will win in the end! It doesn’t give me any faith in our justice system. Not that there was much anyway!

    1. Dez

      I regret the honourable scales of justice were flogged off years ago replaced by the interests of the Elite and the so called Establishment. RIP

    2. katythenightowl

      I’m so glad to read this, Catherine 🙂
      As one of the people who has now payed twice, only to be told I still can’t vote, I feel this really should be taken further – democracy in this country is so rare now, it’s becoming a very bad joke 🙁

    3. Wanda Lozinska

      So, will there be another appeal? I hope so.
      I’m sure many people would donate more for the sake of democracy.

  5. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    As I see it, this Judge erred in Law by not considering retrospection and the contractual breach. If this decision is allowed to stand, then NEC are free to make it up as they go along. That cannot be right. I hope the 5 Labour members appeal to the Supreme Court; even though this judge has said that no further appeal may be heard, that is incorrect, the 5 members can seek leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court and I understand their lawyers are in the process of doing that. Until that appeal is dealt with/heard the £30K costs will not need to be paid. Hopefully, if the Supreme Court agree with the High Court, then the NEC will not only have to pay the claimants costs but will also likely have to reimburse all those who paid the £25 voting tax. If I was the lawyer for the claimants, I’d be inclined to request the Supreme Court to issue a direction that the reimbursement of the claimants court costs are not taken from party funds or subscriptions but from the Chairman of the NEC, Iain McNichol’s wallet!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Iain McNichol is the secretary.
      I’d agree that it should be taken directly from the people who made the decision. Mr McNichol would be one. Tom Watson would be another. And the NEC chair, who has spoken up in favour of the Court of Appeal’s decision, is Paddy Lillis.

      1. rupertrlmitchell

        I feel that members would willingly contribute towards an appeal which I hope will go forward for true democracy.

        Doubt has already been cast on the legality of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and it would seem to me to be worth-while appealing it. If all members contributed it would only involve a small donation for each of us towards the cost. As the judge has incorrectly ruled that there can be no further appeal did he do this intentionally or was it an error: either way surely he is “out of court” and the ruling must be removed.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That’s right – the source is a retired barrister.
      Do you have any issues with the arguments this source has put forward?

      1. Pat Powell

        Yes Spirit that’s what I meant. It’s necessary to imclude sources of comments as there will be plenty to take advantage of anything they can to discredit things. It’s no way critical of Mike, who does excellent and tireless work. We’re all on the same side and working for the same cause.

  6. hayfords

    As a Conservative, I am upset at the verdict because I want Corbyn to be the leader. I registered to vote in the original leadership election and intend to vote for JC.

    It is interesting to compare the attitude of the two sides over the court case. When the case went to the side of allowing the 130,000 to vote, the supporters were very happy and pleased and said it was the right result. The other side accepted the result but appealed. There was no bad feeling or aggression.

    Now the appeal has reversed the decision, the pro vote side are claiming a fix and saying how unfair and unjust it is. I do think it was the right decision as the NEC should be free to set their rules. I , wonder what the verdict would have been if the decision To automatically add Corbyn to the ballot Had been appealed.

    They now have the option of their own appeal. Personally, I hope they do and win.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      What a contradictory comment!
      So, despite criticising the reaction of the “pro-vote” camp, as you describe them, you’re happy with what they’re doing.
      I still don’t believe your claim to have a vote in the election but if you do and it’s for Corbyn then you are in tune with the will of the Labour Party.

  7. Brian

    This raises two points, are the NEC defined as The Labour Party, I don’t think so, the members are the party and as usual some NEC members take the Tory tack and think they are above their members / public’s wishes.

    Secondly, the judiciary has determined by it’s decision, that the rules the NEC has made regarding voters, while legally enforceable, at the moment, are un-constitutional and undemocratic. A situation born off the ambitions of some NEC members and one that hopefully will be rectified when JC takes the reins.

    You have to ask yourself, what is the point of a labour party that does not act in the interests of it’s members, or practice the philosophy on which it was founded and purports to represent. I for one am not interested in supporting a Tory doppelganger.

  8. Fibro confused

    What happened to the false advertising on the parties website? or is that now included in the rule book advertising can be changed at anytime regardless of any cost or lose of rights to purchasers? be a few businesses who would love to use that to save them some ££

  9. Tim

    Well, on the positive side, this verdict proves conclusively that that Judges (or at least these Judges) are not biased by elitist, establishment Tory sympathies in such a way to encourage them to favour the Conservative party. If the contrary were true they would obviously have allowed as every member of the Labour party, no matter how new, to vote for Corbyn in the belief that with him as leader more Conservatives MPs and fewer Labour MPs would be returned to parliament after the next general election. Corbyn is going to win anyway but it’s nice to know that the judiciary is still politically impartial.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Not true.
      The evidence suggests that Philip Sales QC had an undeclared interest, in that he spent many years working for Tony Blair’s New Labour.

      1. Tim

        Well it’s nice to see that interests, undeclared or otherwise, didn’t prompt the judges into allowing the newest members of the Labour party to vote Jezza, in order to give him an even bigger landslide of votes to keep him as Labour leader. The obvious action for a biased Conservative judge to take would be to help Corbyn get as big a victory as possible in order to make election of a Labour government as unlikely as possible and this didn’t happen. Chalk up a win for British justice. Jezza looks destined to lead Labour over the cliff whatever the judiciary decided.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        What a silly comment.
        We know what one judge’s interests were, and they were damning enough.
        He had been given a job by Tony Blair’s Labour.
        Don’t try to muddy the matter by trying to mention Conservatives.
        If you’ve read my latest article on this subject, you’ll know that Iain McNicol, Paddy Lillis and the others will go down in ignominy as the Labour leaders who bought into Tory policies of justice only for those who can afford it – and did so using money that once belonged to the members they have disenfranchised.

  10. concernedkev

    Watched some of proceedings. The members QC was pathetic and all over the shop, letting judges rush him and failed to make case of breach of contract. No wonder innocent people are jailed

  11. Cosette

    If an early freeze date was selected to ‘exclude suspicious late entrants’, why was it then made possible for those same ‘suspicious late entrants’ and others (logically, even more suspicious) to register to vote on payment of a sum of money? Is this not highly contradictory of an already dubious claim of justification?

    Notwithstanding all the flaws illuminated and points expounded in this article, there is also a serious question over what would appear to be blatant vote-selling on the part of the NEC.

  12. Phil Lee

    Any unbiased judge would have refused to include “new” evidence (the appeal is on the legality of the original decision on the basis of evidence presented to the original court, and is NOT a re-trial) and in the case of this particular individual, recused himself as being clearly not unbiased.
    To call it justice is to bring the court into disrepute, and I suggest that Philip Sales is in contempt of the original court too, by not judging it’s decision fairly, and in accordance with the law. He should be disbarred, and probably put on trial for the gross miscarriage of justice he has caused.
    I hope an investigation into this individual will be launched, as he clearly has no business in a court room other than in the dock.
    And I hope he does try to sue me – I can’t defame the infamous, who have brought that infamy upon themselves, not can I be in contempt of such a clearly wrong decision when I state the facts of the case.
    Suing me would mean that he would have to have his abuse of position and the legal process exposed in the public court, before the press. I would welcome that, but I doubt he has the balls to attempt to defend the indefensible.
    Philip Sales is a disgrace to his profession, and this biased parody of justice brings into question any and all previous cases he may have heard. Judges are supposed to be impartial. He clearly was not and is not.

    1. John

      You are overlooking the fact that two other judges supported the decision.
      Is the same to be said about them?
      Sales was in Lord Irvine’s chambers as a barrister, which was also the same chambers of another barrister named Tony Blair.
      Blair appointed Sales to a government position which netted Sales £3.3 million.
      Sales and Blair go back a long way.
      In the lottery that is UK law, it seems the Five’s QC was not good enough.
      The crowd-funding appeal for £100,000 has raised £93,480.
      They say they are investigating appealing to the Supreme Court.
      I am going to donate to their financial appeal and, hopefully, legal appeal.

      1. John

        Sorry. I have just checked the latest update and the site now says: ‘Unfortunately, given the costs involved in pursuing the case further (the fee for getting the case even heard at the Supreme Court is around £8,000), we have taken the decision that this is where this particular legal case has to stop.’
        You can read the full statement at https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/labour-party-membership/.
        It is a shame, as I believe they and a huge number of loyal party members were wronged by a wrongful decision but it is not fair to ask ordinary party members to take on a huge financial risk with a tiny little clique who control the purse strings of the Labour Party.
        We all owe the Five a great debt of gratitude for having taken the case as far as they have.
        They have exposed McNicol, Lillis and Watson – among a very few others – for the appalling individuals they truly are.
        Never again will decent people seek their company.

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