The campaign entitled “Give us back our democracy” seeks to legally revoke the decision of Labour’s ruling national executive (NEC) to ban members who joined after 12 January 2016 from voting in the leadership election.
Astonishingly, over 130,000 people joined the Labour party since only the EU referendum and subsequent coup against Jeremy Corbyn. To put this in perspective, the Conservative party has around 149,000 members in total. A lot of these new Labour members are believed to be supporters of the incumbent, so critics argue that banning them from voting constitutes anti-Corbyn gerrymandering. Indeed, the NEC has not provided any valid reason for discouraging and retroactively disenfranchising, rather than welcoming, new party members.
But for Hannah, who started the crowd-funding page for the legal fight, the reason for the NEC’s decision is ultimately irrelevant. Her campaign is an appeal to democracy and fairness:
Regardless of who you support in the leadership contest, or whether you are even a Labour member, I am sure you will agree that it is incredibly unfair to all the members, around 130,000 of them, who joined since 12 January to have their voting rights taken away.
Labour members who joined after 12 January were promised a vote in the leadership election when they handed over membership fees:
As a member, you’ll be a key part of the team. You’ll be eligible to vote in leadership elections.
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Joining the party involved a transaction for the now disenfranchised members. They were paying not only to support the party, but also to have their voice heard within the Labour movement.
Following Hannah’s campaign, the dispute has been formally taken up by Harrison Grant Solicitors. The legal firm confirmed it has:
issued proceedings against the Labour Party on behalf of a number of new members who have been denied the opportunity to vote in the forthcoming leadership election.
Considering Labour unequivocally stated these members would be “eligible to vote in leadership elections”, and the surging donations on the crowdfunding page, Harrison Grant Solicitors may well have case.
The Labour coup and its candidate, Owen Smith, won’t be pleased in the slightest.
If you believe new members should be allowed to vote, check out the crowdfunding page.
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