Harriet Harman is so concerned that the Labour leadership contest may be infiltrated by entryists on the left and the right that she has written to every Labour MP with the names of people in their constituency who have signed up as party members or registered as supporters since the election.
The interim Labour leader wants the MPs to report any of the new members or registered supporters who are members of other parties or are known troublemakers. Registered supporters have to pay a £3 fee and sign a statement saying they are committed to Labour values. Figures show that 20,000 new members and a further 21,000 registered supporters have signed up since nominations for the leadership closed.
In an email to MPs, Harman wrote: “All concerns raised are being acted on. As a Member of Parliament your local knowledge and information is important to uphold the integrity of the leadership election.”
Under new rules to open up the leadership contest – and to reduce the influence of trade unions – anyone can vote if they sign up by midday on Wednesday 12 August. Registered supporters must give signed or verbal agreement to the following statement: “I support the aims and values of the Labour Party, and I am not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it.”
Some Labour MPs have been saying in private that a number of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are signing up people who have no real commitment to the Labour party and are more natural members of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. The Corbyn team dismiss these claims and say that the veteran MP for Islington North is winning over young people who are flocking to packed meetings around the country.
Harman told the Guardian last week that a new email was being sent to local constituency Labour parties, setting out how they could check whether bogus applicants were trying to join as registered supporters. The email was initially sent out last week but a new version has now been sent out again to every Labour MP with the names of members, registered supporters and affiliated members who have signed up since the election.
Harman wrote in the email to Labour MPs: “As you know, the party has an absolute focus on ensuring that the rules agreed in 2014 for electing the new party leadership are complied with and the integrity of the process is upheld. That means extending the right to vote in the leadership election but ensuring it is not for those who support other parties and is only for those who support the Labour party.
“Nationally there has been, and will continue to be, an extensive and robust process of verification of those who seek a vote either as a new member, affiliated supporter or registered supporter. This process checks that they support the Labour Party and are on the electoral register. Details of these people are being made available to CLP Secretaries and Vice Chairs (Membership) in real time and they have been asked to check there aren’t any people known to them to be members of other parties, or who do not support the Labour Party.
“These people are not eligible to vote. CLPs are asked to report to head office if they have any evidence or suspicions. All concerns raised are being acted on.”
A Labour source said: “We have cut and pasted the names of new members and registered supporters to make it incredibly easy for MPs and CLPs to check them. This is a rigorous process.”
This article was written by Nicholas Watt Chief political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 4th August 2015 23.46 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010