When the Labour leadership election was called the NEC established some arbitrary rules about who could and who couldn’t vote. At the time I met the following prediction: “I am fully confident that a legal challenge will defeat this decision”. Today the High Court agreed with my amateur legal opinion and has ruled that Labour members who have joined since the January 1st should be allowed to vote in the upcoming leadership election. The Corbyn campaign welcomed the decision however the barrister representing the Labour NEC has appealed the decision.
The five Labour Party members who took the NEC to court argued that being denied the right to vote in the upcoming leadership election amounted to breach of contract as in all the literature outlining the benefits of membership included the ability to vote in leadership elections. The judge agreed as a result around 125,000 voters who had been disenfranchised will now be allowed to participate. As I said above the NEC’s legal team has said that they have appealed the decision, and because of the serious political and constitutional nature of the decision, the appeal hearing has been expedited and may well take place as early as Thursday.
As was pointed out in many different news sources, we don’t actually know if this will benefit the Corbyn campaign. It is widely thought that these people joined to support Corbyn’s leadership however it’s not known how many of the people who were initially ineligible from voting paid £25 to get the vote. It’s probably safe to say that these people didn’t flock to join the party to vote for Owen Smith, because he hadn’t launched his campaign yet and before then most people hadn’t really heard of the Pontypridd MP.
This legal ruling is a victory for democracy and a blow for those who wished to fight a leadership election on an unfair playing field. The motivation for people who wanted to disenfranchise Labour members, or keep Corbyn off the ballot, or smear activists in the media is so that they can defeat Corbyn, however they betray all of their principles in order to do so. They tried to rig the leadership election so that Jeremy Corbyn would lose and then when people say that you can’t do that they are indignant about justice prevailing. The mind boggles.