JEREMY CORBYN is seeking to overturn a decision to stop new Labour members voting in the party’s leadership election, branding it “simply not fair.”
More than 130,000 people have joined the party in the last six months, but they will not be able to vote in the leadership contest unless they pay another £25 to become a registered supporter.
Labour’s national executive voted last week to exclude any member who had joined the party or affiliated trade unions after January 12, which was a boost to Mr Corbyn’s rivals who have less support among the party’s grassroots.
But Mr Corbyn said at the weekend that he hopes the decision will be overturned at the national executive meeting scheduled for this week and one trade union has threatened legal action.
“There’s going to be some quite intense discussions over the next few days, I suspect, and I hope our party officials and our national executive will see sense in this and recognise that those people who have freely given of their time and their money to join the Labour Party should be welcomed in and given the opportunity to take part in this crucial debate, whichever way they decide to vote,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics.
“I’m hoping there will be an understanding that it’s simply not very fair to say to people that joined the party in the last six months: ‘Sorry, your participation is no longer welcome because we’re having a leadership contest’.”
Rail union TSSA wrote to Mr Corbyn at the weekend to express its opposition to the “deeply regrettable” decision.
General secretary Manuel Cortes wrote: “In our union, the only requirement to get a vote is to be a member. There is no qualifying period.
“Sadly, I fear that, if this decision is not overturned, it may well take a legal ruling to end the disenfranchisement of our members.”
Mr Corbyn added that it was “not really reasonable” to ask people to pay £25 for a vote, warning that this meant shutting working-class people out of the election.
He also described the decision to cancel all party meetings until the conclusion of the contest as a “big mistake.”
The two-day window to become a registered supporter opens today at 5pm and closes on Wednesday at the same time. Applications can be made on the Labour Party website.