Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to get re-elected as leader of the Labour Party has suffered a huge blow as the Court of Appeal ruled today that new members, who were guaranteed a right to vote in any leadership election, will be barred from voting.
Despite the previous ruling that 130,000 new members would be allowed to vote, an appeal from Labour’s National Executive Committee was successful. It has been widely speculated that the bulk of these new members had signed up in support of the current Labour leader.
The decision was attacked by Corbyn’s team after it was announced – John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor, accused the Labour Party’s lawyers of using ‘a grubby little device’ to win the appeal.
In the previous court case, Mr. Justice Hickinbottom ruled that all new members would be entitled to vote, and issued the following statement: “it was the common understanding as reflected in the Rule Book that, if they joined the Party prior to the election process commencing, as new members they would be entitled to vote in any leadership contest”.
Despite the ruling, Corbyn is expected to win the leadership election. In the Constituency Labour Party elections yesterday, Corbyn trounced his opponent Owen Smith. The incumbent Labour leader won the nominations of 255 CLPs to his challenger’s 49.
Many of the 130,000 members who have been barred from voting will be forced to pay a fee of £25 if they still want to vote for their candidate of choice. The £25 fee has been controversial among Labour members – many have argued that a self-described socialist party should not impose such a hefty fee on its members. The fee has risen from £3 in the previous leadership election.
If Corbyn wins the leadership election and is challenged again before the next General Election, as many political pundits predict, the 130,000 Labour members who have been disenfranchised will be able to vote without paying a fee.