Court of Appeal backs Labour NEC — excluding 130,000 new members

Corbyn campaign says it is 'the wrong decision — both legally and democratically'


Labour’s National Executive Committee has successfully overturned the High Court’s ruling that it would be unlawful to exclude members registered after 12 January from voting in the leadership contest.

The decision will be a blow to Jeremy Corbyn, who was expected to take the majority of the 130,000 new members’ votes.

The five new members who took the case to the High Court requested permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but were refused.

The judge accepted the NEC’s argument that its authority is supreme in setting rules for the contest, saying that there was “express provision” in the Labour rule book for the NEC to define voter eligibility.

A spokesperson for Jeremy for Labour has issued a statement criticising the ruling, and the NEC’s decision to appeal:

“We think that this is the wrong decision — both legally and democratically.

“The Court’s ruling disenfranchises nearly 130,000 Labour members, who joined the party since January and were explicitly told that they would have a vote in any leadership election.

“Crucial to the outcome today was the introduction of a new argument by the Labour Party HQ’s lawyers, who invoked an obscure clause in the Labour Party rules (Chapter 4, Clause II, 1.A), which could be read as giving the NEC the right to ignore all of the rules laid out for leadership elections.

“In other words, this is a ‘make it up as you go along’ rule. We do not think that making it up as you go along is a reasonable way to conduct democracy in our party.

“Serious questions must be raised, however, over why and how the NEC Procedures Committee brought this appeal.

“In doing so, it effectively risked new members’ money on an attempt to disenfranchise them. If we are to build a big, inclusive party to take on the Tories, we need to secure democracy in our party.”

Responding to the decision, Owen Smith commented:

“I had welcomed the prospect of 125,000 additional members being given the opportunity to vote in this vitally important leadership election.

“The decision of the Appeal Court today doesn’t change my approach to this contest; I am getting on with the job of talking to as many members and supporters across the country as possible and making the case for a united, radical and credible Labour Party.”

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11 Responses to “Court of Appeal backs Labour NEC — excluding 130,000 new members”

  1. Roy Scoones

    The Labour Party is being run by a group of people who cannot accept that they belong in history. The people to be excluded from the Corbyn vote are the future. They will never support a party that rejects democracy. And they are not alone.

  2. Pete Chilton

    Absolutely saddened by the antics of the NEC and PLP and misuse of membership monies which should be used to fight the Tories. They do not get it, labour voters who voted for Brexit have been lost to UKIP and its like not in the last 18 months but over the last 30 years. When the policies you stand on are indistinguishable, in the eyes of the electorate, from those represented by the Tories and you either vote with them or abstain on issues like austerity meadures then you will inevitably lose those voters. Within hours of Brexit up to £400 billion was identified to shore up the economy, 2.5 % of that would have alleviated the severity of austerity. The PLP are the wreckers and should be bloody ashamed of themselves. The political class is out of touch. When opposition MP’s are being egged on and cheered by this governments representatives they should look long and hard at what they are doing to the party, tp working people and to themselves.

  3. Anne Baldwin

    Thank goodness common sense has prevailed. Congratulations to Ian McNicholl and his team for supporting our democratically elected NEC. Shame on our ‘leader’ for trying to undermine them. It took me about five minutes to find the appropriate phrases in the Rule Book (available to all on membersnet). I just couldn’t understand how the previous judge had missed them. We all sign to abide by the Rules, whatever organisation we join. In this case the transparent retrospective freeze dates have been used successfully in Parliamentary, Council and other selections for years. How on earth can the leaders office say they are ‘obscure’.

  4. John Woods

    The NEC should be supreme and never challenged by anyone at any time.

  5. Jason

    Just so obvious – not for the courts – is for the NEC to decide rules – guess we’ll see that being applied ruthlessly when new NEC takes over 🙂 and gawd knows what kind of fantasy world will emerge after conference

  6. Jean Apps

    The Court of Appeal ruling does not alter the fact that tens of thousands of people joined the Labour Party at a time when it expressly stated on the Party’s official website that, as a member, they would be able to take part in leadership elections. No qualifying period of membership was given. The later removal of this statement from the website is surely an admission that it was misleading, i.e. that it offered a false promise to those considering applying for membership. Natural justice and plain common sense therefore require that all who joined while that statement was on the Party website should be allowed to take part in the leadership ballot.

  7. Phil Lee

    I cannot believe that this decision is in line with the law, or that the idiots reaching it are literate – the wording on the membership application is abundantly clear and straightforward, and it’s completely obvious that the injustices have so little confidence in their decision (surely reached by means of monetary incentive) that they refused leave to appeal.
    What on earth is the point of an appeal procedure if the cretin making the wrong decision can deny access to redress?
    Still, with the new members of the NEC, they can easily reverse the decision reached by the former, now disgraced and removed, members, surely. After all, if the judge says they can make it up as they go along, that’s just as valid in both directions. With a proper LABOUR NEC, the Bliarites tory 5th columnists may have given themselves a fine shot in the foot, with both barrels!

  8. Jake Pepper

    Don’t worry too much. With the changes to come, it will be easier for us to find 172 NEW MPs than it will be for them to find half-a-million new members.

  9. NHSGP

    130,000 Small claims, and the NEC have to pay the costs when they lose.

  10. fake

    Just eat your popcorn and watch the labour party out tory the tories.

  11. Imran Kahn

    NHSGC. Could you give some legal reasoning for your claim? The broader picture is that Labour lost contact with its core base years ago. The old industrial and inner city white working class have defected to, in turn, the BNP, UKIP and now the Tories. I am writing some articles for the Indian media on the current process which has involved interviews, all off the record, with many leading lights in Labour and some scenarios are beginning to emerge.

    The first is that the fact that there is a section of the left which would rather be in permanent opposition but ideologically pure. The political line must be adhered to at all times even if the masses don’t want it. It would appear that pragmatism and flexibility are hangovers from the hated Blair years and must be avoided at any cost. This debate is summed up in today’s Observer between Emma Rees “a national organiser for Momentum” and Jess Phillips MP for Birmingham Yardley. Do read. It’s all there.

    The second is that even if by some miracle the NEC doesn’t manage to force mandatory re-selection of MPs then the boundary changes will. By that time, I understand, Momentum are confident that they will have control of enough constituency parties to deselect most of the anti Corbyn element of Parliament, or enough of them to give Corbyn more control of the Parliamentary Party and begin to be in control of the party nationally.

    If that happens then there are already discussion taking place as to what the de-selected MPs will do. Many will be nearing retirement age and will go. But there are many with years of Parliament in front of them who are likely to stand as independents under whatever banner that will emerge from the legal fight over the party name and assets. This will split the Labour vote in many constituencies and with many UKIP voters likely to be looking for a home after a split in that party will guarantee the Tories a whacking majority next time around.

    I have never seen such hatred from both sides of the party the one for the other since the days of Militant and Derek Hatton. A trawl through the left wings sites shows that they see this as their best chance ever to create or take over Labour and turn it into the type of organisation that working class voters have consistently rejected since the formation of the Communist Party in the early 1920s. The fat that the new vehicle could never achieve any kind of power even of the shared variety under a first past the post system is irrelevant, purity is all.

    This myopia is summarised most neatly in this from Emma Rees in the above referred to article. ” People who have previously felt excluded from party politics have been inspired to become active. Whether it is through Momentum football events, where political workshops take place before a football match, or the people’s politics, philosophy and economics lecture and workshop series, thousands of people have become politically engaged through Momentum.

    This moment is an opportunity for the Labour Party. Across the UK, constituency Labour parties have seen their turnouts mushroom. Engaging more people in the party has allowed us to to act as a stronger opposition to the Tory government and be more efficient in winning elections. Through this wider and more organised network we have started to persuade people that Jeremy’s politics are an alternative to the status quo, reflected in the 128,000 people who joined the party in the fortnight after Brexit”. There is much more of the same but I can sum up the view of the leadership of Momentum as being it doesn’t matter if we are out of power, we always have been so what’s new. And of those who are well meaning but naive that a massive explosion in the membership means popularity in the country.

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