The founder of a Twitter campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in order to damage the party’s future chances of gaining power claims to have received three ballot papers to vote in the election, despite being a member of the Conservative party.
But a Labour party source said it had only sent one ballot paper to his address and that the Electoral Reform Service, which is managing the voting, would not allow one individual to vote three times.
Andrew Wylie, who uses the pen name Charlie Mortimer, said he registered as a supporter of the Labour party using his first name, his middle name and his wife’s name, using the same email address and mobile phone number on all three applications.
Wylie claims to have received three separate ballot papers and to have sent them all off, voting for Corbyn in first place, with no second preference. “I’m hoping Jeremy will just walk it in the first round,” he said.
Wylie started the online campaign #ToriesForCorbyn in June, using his Twitter name Marcher Lord to persuade Conservative party members to vote for Corbyn, the most leftwing of the four candidates, in a bid to damage the party’s future electoral chances.
He says he avoided paying the full £3 donation for each of his ballot papers, instead ticking a box to say he was a former member of the armed forces, which allowed him to reduce his donation to £1.
Wylie says he signed up initially just to see if it was possible. “I heard there were 80,000 to 90,000 new members and only 40-odd people doing the vetting and I thought, well let’s do the maths on that. I thought there was a fair chance of sneaking through. Let’s be honest, Labour’s only chance of winning an election since the mid-70s has been when Tony Blair moved it away from the left, because the left didn’t appeal to Britain. Labour’s answer now seems to be to go further left. How is that going to work?”
A Labour party spokesperson said that Mortimer would “absolutely not get a vote” in the leadership election.
“The Labour party has a robust system to prevent fraudulent or malicious applications and duplicate votes,” they said. “All applications to join the Labour party as a member, affiliate or supporter are verified and those who do not share Labour’s aims and values will be denied a vote.”
Under new rules anyone can vote if they pay £3 to register as a supporter, which has prompted concerns that the system could be gamed by people who oppose Labour. About 400,000 people have become eligible to vote in the contest since the general election, swelling the electorate to 600,000.
Registered supporters must give signed or verbal agreement that they “support the aims and values of the Labour party” and are “not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it”.
It emerged earlier this month that 150 people who stood as candidates for the Green party, 92 members and candidates with the Trade Union and Socialist coalition (Tusc) and 18 senior figures from Left Unity had registered.
Asked to respond to criticism that registering as a Labour supporter was fraudulent, Wylie said: “It’s not as though I did anything really, really nasty like invade Iraq.”
Ballot papers to vote in the election began arriving on Monday, prompting many excited voters to post photographs of them on social media. BuzzFeed News revealed that the security codes on the ballot papers, visible in the pictures, could be used in the online voting system to steal people’s votes.
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 18th August 2015 14.29 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010