In a high court decision, Labour’s ruling body, the NEC, has managed to overturn right of new members to vote in the election for the next leader of the party.
Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn will go head-to-head in September but 130,000 newly paid up members who signed up less than six months ago, will be cut from the contest. They will not be able to vote and it is thought many of these members would have voted for Jeremy Corbyn, although this s by no means certain.
Three court of appeal judges decided that it was right to not allow these people to vote and Corbyn’s camp were enraged by the decision. They said it was incorrect “both legally and democratically.”
The decision is likely to disenfranchise the new members who want to be part of the party and have their say in who leads it to the 2020 general election.
A Corbyn spokesperson said: “Crucial to the outcome today was the introduction of a new argument by the Labour party HQ’s lawyers, who invoked an obscure clause in the Labour party rules (chapter 4, clause II, 1A), which could be read as giving the NEC the right to ignore all of the rules laid out for leadership elections.
“In other words, this is a ‘make it up as you go along’ rule. We do not think that making it up as you go along is a reasonable way to conduct democracy in our party.”
Paddy Lillis, chair of the Labour NEC, welcomed the ruling. “The party has said consistently throughout this process that we would defend vigorously the decisions of the NEC.
“It was right that the party appealed the judgment, just as we would have appealed if the court in the previous case did not uphold the NEC decision that the incumbent leader of the Labour party did not require nominations.”
The Labour party membership has swelled to over half a million, no other UK political party comes close, but treating their newer members in this way might leave a sour taste in a lot of these politically energised people, who could see this as a very undemocratic way to try and manufacture a win for Owen Smith, the NEC’s preferred candidate, who they see as electable.
They are certain Corbyn could never be PM and appear to try various methods to stop him, however Corbyn’s core support is huge and will fight for his leadership all the way through the hustings process and onto the date for the leadership decision.