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Why votes for supporters is a recipe for corruption

Labour’s National executive is still deliberating on Refounding Labour. Labour List reports that “Labour will be recruiting “registered supporters” locally, who will get to vote in the Labour leadership campaign in the affiliates section (often referred to, somewhat inaccurately, as the union section)“. This is wrong in principle. It is a recipe for corruption. And yet we may not even have a chance to vote against it.

It is wrong in principle because it devalues party membership, devalues the contribution of trade union levy-payers (the real reason why it is happening) and hands influence over the result to Murdoch and his fellow press barons, and to people who do nothing to support the party, pay nothing and perhaps don’t even really support the party.

It is right that the party listen to and consult with the public. If we do not understand their thoughts, fears and wants, we cannot hope to present a programme that can achieve their objectives or ours. But we do not have to be governed by what they think now – whether it is measured by polls focus groups or party ballots. We’re not looking for the X-factor. Name recognition and instant superficial judgements are not what we need. We seek to change and lead opinion.

But the potential for corruption may the worst outcome. We know what will happen. Some parties, especially those led by those on the right of the party, will do their utmost to “register” as many as possible – every Labour promise on the register perhaps. Many will do it because it is right. Others will see the opportunity. For influencing the outcome. We will see leadership votes in ‘surprising’ numbers from residential homes. From absent voters. From neighbours who have moved. From people who should never have been registered. From Tories and members of the SWP who vote tactically. And other constituencies, those on the left, those who disagree with the new provision, will not recruit registered supporters.

Don’t doubt that there are people in the party who would arrange this. We have party staff who have been breaking the rules for years. Even staff who break into ballot boxes under lock and key at party headquarters, or condone such action – and party managers know who they are. Will those same managers and staff prevent such abuse. I doubt it. They themselves argue it can happen wherever it suits them to do so.

Ed Miliband may yet regret what he has allowed to happen.


  1. Gary Elsby says:

    Gee up! I thought I’d heard it all but this particular colum requires a triple XXX rating.
    I need medication each time I hear the term ‘Labour’ and only if the lights are on.

    Everyone but everyone can see that something dodgy is going on in the working class name.

    These pencil pushers and paper clip counters are getting out of hand and need to be castrated.

    Samshing ballot boxes in?
    Why do we allow this type of person any say whatsoever in a working class party?

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