A Labour MP has urged Harriet Harman to suspend the leadership contest, claiming there is evidence of widespread entryism from the far left. The Sunday Times splashes with the news that John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, has called for voting to be “halted” with “Militant Tendency types coming back in”.
It is unclear what all the evidence the paper reports amounts to, with most apparent non-supporters registering, such as Green Party members, Tory supporters and even Derek Hatton, seemingly happening on a small scale basis. However, the paper says that a number of Labour MPs are concerned, and by and large the new members and supporters are signing up to support Jeremy Corbyn.
The chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), Jack Conrad, appeared to endorse their supporters signing up to actively take part in changing the Labour Party, rather than just voting in the leadership election. In a podcast last week, he said he was “encouraging people to join the Labour party to vote in the Labour party, to participate in the Labour party”.
John Mann told the Sunday Times that the problem had reached the point where the election must now be stopped:
“It should be halted. It is becoming a farce with longstanding members . . . in danger of getting trumped by people who have opposed the Labour party and want to break it up, expressly want to break it up — some of it is the Militant Tendency types coming back in.”
UPDATE: According to the Mail on Sunday, Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, John Cryer, has also raised concerns about the ballot, and has reportedly called for the registered supporters section to be stopped.
When registering as a member for £3, or signing up as full member, people are asked to agree with 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.”
Therefore, if those signing up are proved to be support or be a member of another party (such as the Greens or communists), they can be struck off without any money being repaid to them. Since the election, around 50,000 new Labour members have signed up, with thousands more registering as supporters or through their trade unions.
Asked about the story on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, Jeremy Corbyn said he opposed people signing up if they are not “genuinely Labour supporters”, but added that the new sign-ups he had seen were generally young people wanting to engage in politics:
“I only want people to register as Labour supporters if they are genuinely Labour supporters and they intend to stay for the longer cause.”
“The entryism I see is lots of young people who were hitherto not very excited by politics, coming in for the first time and saying: ‘Yeah, we can have a discussion. We can talk about our debts and our housing problems.'”
UPDATE: So far, only around 30 registered supporters have been rejected, LabourList understands. Most of them have been Tories (some caught out using hashtags on Twitter), but if you want to raise concerns about someone signing up, you can email [email protected]