Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Labour Party NEC decided that Jeremy Corbyn can defend his leadership, but ...


On July 12th 2016 the Labour Party National Executive Committee held an emergency meeting to determine the rules of the Labour leadership election.

Jeremy Corbyn can defend his leadership


Angela Eagle and her supporters had tried to argue that Jeremy Corbyn should be kept out of the leadership contest unless he collected the signatures of 20% of Labour MPs, but the NEC decided to uphold the clearly stated party rule that the leader automatically gets to contest a leadership challenge.

This decision was sensible because the rule that he should be allowed to stand was clearly written, so a decision to exclude Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership election would have been extremely anti-democratic move that would have dismayed a significant proportion of Labour Party members and done irreparable damage to the public image of the party.

Just think about it - who would vote for a party led by someone so cowardly that they'd rather have their main leadership rival barred from the contest via backroom wrangling, rather than fight them in a fair, democratic contest?

New rules


The decision to allow Jeremy Corbyn to defend his leadership was a sensible decision from the NEC, but what happened next was an absolute travesty.

The next items the NEC voted on were a raft of new election rules to replace the ones used in the leadership contest that Jeremy Corbyn won just ten months ago. The sole purpose of the rule changes seemed to be to give the Anyone But Corbyn candidate a better chance of beating him.

The first rule change is that any Labour Party members who joined in the last six months will be excluded from the vote, and another is an utterly bizarre loophole that will allow non-Labour members to buy a vote in the election for a fee of £25.

Barring new members from voting

The decision to allow people to join the Labour Party (as a member or supporter) in order to vote in the 2015 leadership election was actually a really good idea. It gave people an incentive to join the party and get involved. 


If Labour are ever going to counter the extreme bias of the right-wing press in the UK (the most right-wing biased in Europe), then they're going to need an awful lot of activists to get out in the streets and actually talk to people, which means that surges of new members are really good for the future prospects of the party.

Of course it takes robust measures to prevent cynical wreckers like the Tory MP Tim Laughton from registering to vote in the Labour leadership election, but all elections need robust measures to detect and prevent fraud.

Excluding the 130,000+ surge of people who have paid to join the Labour Party in recent months is clearly an anti-democratic move inspired solely by the desire to reduce Jeremy Corbyn's chances of victory. Only a top-down Blairite could ever see a massive increase in party membership as a terrible thing that has to be undermined with rule changes designed to actively deter new people from wanting to join the party and turn new members into second class citizens without voting rights.

The £25 fee

The move to exclude newer members from voting is clearly anti-democratic, but the £25 loophole is an absolute affront to the idea of fairness. It's basically a way of allowing the well-to-do to still have their say whilst excluding the "lower orders".

If you're well off enough to spend £25 just to cast a single vote in a political leadership election you're obviously doing much better than a lot of people in austerity Britain. The idea that the victims of austerity Britain are worthless and unworthy of a vote in who becomes Labour leader is completely backwards. The Labour Party should be reaching out to the victims of Tory austerity and saying "we will stand up for you", not introducing rule changes to deliberately exclude them from participation.

More ineptitude from the coup plotters


The ban on recently joined members voting and the £25 loophole are clearly anti-democratic modifications to the rules of the leadership contest with no purpose other than trying to rig the contest in favour of the Anyone But Corbyn candidate, but it's not certain that only allowing the well-to-do to buy a vote in the election will do much to swing the vote in favour of the Anyone But Corbyn candidate at all.

Quite a few wealthy people must be as sick of the dishonest, expenses-scamming Westminster establishment class as the rest of us, so what's to say that the £25 vote buyers will be exclusively people with anti-Corbyn sentiments? In fact, only the most ideologically committed people would ever be likely to consider splashing out £25 to cast a single vote in a party leadership election, and surely nobody in Britain could have such ideological commitment to an insincere backstabber like Angela Eagle or a Blairite guy they'd never even heard of until last week (Owen Smith).

It's not at all clear that allowing people to buy a vote for £25 will result in the intended outcome of swinging the vote against Jeremy Corbyn, but one outcome of this ridiculous rule change is a certainty: An awful lot of people who would like to vote in the election but don't have a spare £25 kicking around are going to feel like they're being deliberately excluded from the process by an out-of-touch party elite.

Another factor to consider is that members of affiliated trade unions will still be allowed to vote in the leadership elections, and all of those unions support Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. The coup plotters are so inept that they've actively blocked off their only means of reshaping the Labour Party electorate in their favour, while leaving the door open for left-wing trade union members to vote for Jeremy Corbyn!

The Labour Party coup plotters failed to bully Jeremy Corbyn into resignation, then they failed to exclude him from the party leadership election, and then to top it off they demanded a load of anti-democratic reforms to the leadership election process that will probably work in Jeremy Corbyn's favour by preventing the Anyone But Corbyn camp from bringing in new members, and by blocking (and thoroughly pissing off) all the Anyone But Corbyn supporters who just joined up in the last few week via that "Saving Labour" site.

If Jeremy Corbyn is as inept as his opponents within the Labour Party keep claiming that he is, how is it possible that they are making such an appalling hash of what should surely have been the easy job of getting rid of him?

Surely that means they're even more inept than they claim he is?

Conclusion


The most telling thing about the changes to the Labour leadership election process is that they are profoundly anti-democratic. It's impossible to make a democratic argument that actual members of the Labour party should be excluded from voting in the Labour leadership election, while people off the street can buy a vote for £25.

It's far from clear that these anti-democratic reforms to the voting process will actually help the Anyone But Corbyn camp, but they do illustrate the mentality of these people. They failed in their anti-democratic plot to exclude Corbyn from the ballot, so they forced through a load of other anti-democratic measures in retaliation.

These people are clearly so terrified of democracy that they oppose it even when it damages their chances of achieving the coup they're so desperate to achieve!

They're terrified of giving more power to ordinary people like you (unless you're well-off in which case you get a loophole), which is why they hate Jeremy Corbyn with such a passion.


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