UK: Tory Infiltration Worries Labour Leadership Contenders
Labour’s leadership contenders will reportedly meet senior party figures to demand infiltrators are weeded out ahead of next month’s vote. At an emergency meeting on Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents are expected to call for better vetting following claims of “entryism” by political opponents paying £3 to become registered Labour supporters – giving them a vote in the poll.
More than 120,000 people have signed up as supporters, along with more than 189,000 members of unions and other affiliates, swelling the electorate to more than 600,000.
Andy Burnham’s campaign argues the process could leave the result open to legal challenge because thousands of Conservatives may have signed up to vote.
His campaign chief, Michael Dugher, has written to Labour general secretary Iain McNichol warning the party was “allowing the issue to drift, and potentially leaving insufficient time for the party to act”.
There is “potentially more that can be done by the party” to weed out Tories and other rogue voters, he said.
“We are also concerned that given the party’s limited resources and the effort required to investigate applicants, this could result in the integrity of the contest being called into question, and the outcome subject to legal challenge,” he added.
But acting leader Harriet Harman insisted the contest is being run rigorously with constant legal advice and the result “will stand”.
She told the BBC: “Because this is the first time we have operated these new rules for electing a Labour leader we have acted constantly on legal advice, we have taken legal advice every step of the way and I am absolutely certain that no court would decide that we had done anything other than apply the rules in a rigorous, fair, robust and even-handed way.”
She added: “People who do support the Labour Party will be eligible for a vote and will get their vote. But there are some people who are saying ‘well, I support the Tory Party but I am going to get a vote in Labour’s leadership election’.
“We don’t think that there is anything clever or funny about that. That is dishonest and that is shameful for people who purportedly believe in democracy and support democracy.”
Mr Corbyn has become the overwhelming favourite to succeed Ed Miliband, enjoying significant leads in many opinion polls.
It has left MPs from other wings of the party planning how to respond, with one claiming plots to oust him would begin immediately after he took the reins.
The four candidates for the Labour leadership will go head-to-head for the final time before voting ends, live on Sky News on Thursday, 3 September. The debate is taking place in Gateshead and if you want to be part of the audience, you can apply here.
– Sky News