NEWS REPORT: What's the Fuss Over Labour Leader Voting?



When Ed Miliband was leader of Labour, one of the big reforms he oversaw was the change in the way the party elects its leader.  Previously, members of trade unions affiliated with Labour were automatically signed up to vote; now, if they're not a member of Labour, they must sign up.  As well as this, everyone now gets one vote and everyone's vote is equal to each other.  Previously, one third of the vote was given to Labour MPs and MEPs, one third was given to trade unions and one third to individual party members. 

However, the real controversy has come from Harriet Harman introducing an option for anyone to sign up and become a 'registered supporter' - for just £3.  Those who have signed up for this have been dubbed 'three quid voters' and now account for 10% of those eligible to vote (35,000).

What's made the scheme even more controversial is the accusations that supporters of other parties have been signing up and 'infiltrating' Labour.  For example, it is thought that some Conservative supporters have signed up to vote for Jeremy Corbyn - who they see as undetectable and thus if he becomes leader, the Conservatives will have an advantage.  In fact, a Tory MP was 'caught' signing up last week - though it is worth noting that he used his parliamentary email and gave his reasons for signing up as 'To vote to Jeremy Corbyn and consign Labour to oblivion for a generation'.  It isn't just those to the right of Labour who have been accused of undermining their election process - according to the Independent, 4% of Green party candidates have signed up to join the Labour party since the election.  The Independent also claims that Labour has already found evidence of far left groups ‘infiltrating’ the party, and quotes an MP as saying “There is panic at Labour headquarters as more evidence emerges”.

It seems there is some frustration amongst Labour MPs too; Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton told the BBC: "In this election virtually anybody can pay just £3 online and have the same power as long-standing members to choose the next party leader.  This was one of the daftest ideas the party has ever come up with… This is infuriating many of my constituency members, some of whom have paid their subscriptions for 10, 15 or 20 years, attended meetings and actively campaigned in elections."

As well as those signing up as ‘registered supporters’ Labour has accepted over 65,000 new members since the general election in May.  The BBC also spoke to Labour MP John Mann, who said: “"People who opposed us, people who stood against us, anybody can roll up… someone needs to check if they are Labour supporters and Labour voters. If so, they are welcome. If not we don't want you."

It isn’t yet clear how large the effect of new members and registered supporters will be on the leadership election.  But it is possible they could swing the vote; whether they are all true Labour supporters or not is still in question.

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NEWS REPORT: What's the Fuss Over Labour Leader Voting? NEWS REPORT: What's the Fuss Over Labour Leader Voting? Reviewed by Unknown on 15:12 Rating: 5

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