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.’

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.