Labour CAN Ban 130,000 Members From Voting In Leadership Contest, Rules Court of Appeal

Paddy Lillis, Chair of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee said: “The Labour Party welcomes the decision of the Appeal Court. 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 judgement on the freeze date, 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.

“It is crucial to the Labour Party that our governing body has the authority to debate, decide and implement the procedures, timetable and voting eligibility for our internal elections and selections.

“The original Court decision had wide-ranging implications for the party and the authority of our governing body. It was the correct decision to seek clarification on this fundamental principle in the Court of Appeal.”

The decision to introduce a retrospective cut-off line on members who could vote in the leadership election was believed to help Jeremy Corbyn as it ruled out all those who joined following the mass shadow resignations in June.

It is believed that surge was mainly Corbyn-sympathisers who were angry with the Parliamentary Labour Party for undertaking a perceived coup against the leadership.

A spokesperson for Jeremy for Labour said:”We think that this is the wrong decision – both legally and democratically.

“The Court’s ruling disenfranchises nearly 130,000 Labour members, who joined the party since January and were explicitly told that they would have a vote in any leadership election.

“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, 1.A), 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.

“Serious questions must be raised, however, over why and how the NEC Procedures Committee brought this appeal. In doing so, it effectively risked new members’ money on an attempt to disenfranchise them. If we are to build a big, inclusive party to take on the Tories, we need to secure democracy in our party.”

The ruling also specifically explains the concept of a “freeze date” for party membership is to tackle fears of “entryism”.

On three occasions, the court judgement refers to freeze dates being specifically mentioned in the Labour rule book to stop entryism from occurring. 

Corbyn’s leadership rival Owen Smith released a statement saying he “had welcomed the prospect of 125,000 additional members being given the opportunity to vote in this vitally important leadership election.”

He added: “The decision of the Appeal Court today doesn’t change my approach to this contest; I am getting on with the job of talking to as many members and supporters across the country as possible and making the case for a united, radical and credible Labour Party.”


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