Court overturns Labour NEC decision – granting leadership vote to 130,000 members

The judge found that it would be unlawful for the party to deny votes to members who joined after 12 January

Image: John Allan

The High Court has ruled in favour of five Labour members who challenged the National Executive Council’s ruling that only members who had joined before 12 January would be eligible to vote in the leadership contest.

Justice Hickinbottom ruled that if the party did not allow new members to vote it ‘would be unlawful as in breach of contract’.

As a result, 130,000 formerly ineligible members will be entitled to vote in the leadership contest, and Jeremy Corbyn will likely win by an even greater margin than was already being predicted.

The judgement also throws up a series of other issues, including the fact that new members who paid £25 to become eligible to vote as registered supporters will demand refunds.

The party has been granted an appeal, which if it goes ahead will be heard on Thursday.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell issued a statement on behalf of the Corbyn leadership campaign, describing the decision as ‘a huge victory for Labour Party members and party democracy’ since the NEC’s initial decision was ‘an affront to democracy and went against everything the party stands for’.

He urged the party not to pursue ‘an unnecessary and costly appeal’ and called on Owen Smith ‘to join with us in backing party members and calling on the Labour Party not to appeal  and attempt to disenfranchise members.’

7 Responses to “Court overturns Labour NEC decision – granting leadership vote to 130,000 members”

  1. Andy Jenkinson

    Not only is the NEC decision unlawful it is even against the Labour Party Rulebook section 10.2. The individuals who voted for the NEC action should be required to pay all costs themselves as it was not Authorized by the Labour Party.

  2. John Woods

    Does it matter? Corbyn has seized the heart of the Labour Party and it will be sucked dry before he lets go.

  3. Richard Cooper

    That’s it then. Owen Smith may as well pack it in now. The result is a foregone conclusion and the inexorable slide into electoral oblivion under Corbyn will lead to the inevitable split, which will in fact, though painful, actually needs to happen.

  4. Nigel Grant

    Todays court decision is the right one. Are you scared of democracy taking hold in the Labour Party?

  5. Bill Wells

    A victory for commonsense over a most dictatorial sub-committee.

  6. Lawrence Hearn

    The rightwing nasties (warmongering, weapons of mass destruction loving Blairites) are incapable of accepting democracy at any level. It’s encouraging to see their attempts at attacking democracy in Labour is meeting with legal difficulties. Next, arrest Blair and his cronies for their crimes against humanity and return Labour to the side of justice and equality instead of obedient vassal of the American war machine.

  7. Robert Jones

    I wonder how sound this judgement actually is: the law of contract would not usually apply in a case such as this – or such is my layman’s opinion; barrack-room lawyer to the fore – and surely wouldn’t have done if the offer of a vote in return for membership had not appeared on the party’s website without qualification. The NEC looks to have been undermined by the internet, and the clumsiness of whoever worded the invitation to apply for membership without including the caveat that there could be a freeze date. It’s also probable that if the cut-off point hadn’t been so extremely long – and why on earth was it? – the NEC’s action would at least have looked reasonable in practical terms.

    I’m baffled by a couple of the comments on this: if you must hate Corbyn and his supporters, then I suppose you must – but the decline in our support began with the coup, not with Corbyn’s victory in the leadership contest. And how you “suck (a party) dry” by doubling its membership and more is lost on me. We have lost months in which we could and should have been making Labour’s case against this government, but thanks to Margaret Hodge and her crass misjudgement in moving a vote of no confidence, and the challenge to Corbyn by two plainly inadequate candidates, our poll ratings have fallen off a cliff.

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