Anyone paying even the slightest attention to social media (mainstream media have almost completely ignored it) over recent weeks cannot fail to be aware of the fact that the right-wing section of the Labour machinery has been busily depriving voters of their right to vote in the current leadership contest on the most spurious of grounds, including full members and those who have been gouged for £25 for the privilege. However, it has been very difficult to gauge exactly the scale of this assault on democracy.
Now, a post on the BBC News politics site, which in itself does not draw attention to the gerrymandering – has made the astonishing scale of what can only be considered rigging clear, if you do a bit of digging into the figures. Here’s the BBC’s graphic showing the totals of those who have been given a vote:
In total, 642,000 people are getting a vote. Sounds like a lot. But it’s hugely diminished compared to those who ought to be.
The last published figures for Labour membership indicated a level of 540,000 members. (EDIT: figures published today indicate 551,000). Of those, 128,000 were denied a vote as members on the basis of the arbitrary, retrospective imposition of a 12 Jan 2016 cut-off date – those who became members after that date were excluded.
Some, apparently seeking to minimise the perception of the scale of the disenfranchisement, have argued that the figures for those denied a vote are unreliable, because there is overlap among ineligible members and registered supporters or union affiliates. But this is disingenuous.
It’s true that the 183,000 supporters would include some full members who were not permitted to vote on the basis of their party membership. There are no figures for how many.
However, none (or as near as makes no difference) of eligible full party members would have bothered paying an additional £25 to become a supporter, when they were already entitled to a vote.
The maths on that are therefore 540,000 total members – 128,000 post-12 Jan members = 412,000 eligible member voters.
Take away the 345,000 actual issued ballots in the BBC graphic and that leaves no fewer than 67,000 eligible voters have not received a vote – over 16% of the Labour electorate (give or take a percent or two for members suspended for the flimsiest of reasons).
Incredibly, Labour claimed yesterday that this huge proportion of its members did not receive a ballot because of an IT ‘glitch’ – in spite of abundant evidence of people contacting the party multiple times to chase the arrival of their voting papers/link.
An amazing total of 183,541 people paid £25, over a mere 2-day period, to become registered supporters in order to have a vote. Labour has informed the BBC that only 129,000 of those have received ballots.
That means a shortfall of over 54,000 – 54,000 people whose money the party took and then failed to provide a ballot – 30% of those who registered.
Some of those are blamed on the individuals not being on the electoral register (though the SKWAWKBOX has seen evidence of numerous people being told they weren’t when they were) – but many were arbitrarily suspended without right of appeal and even more were victims of the ‘glitch’.
A glitch that seems remarkably intelligent and specific, as it appears that no Smith supporters ‘fell through the glitch-crack’ – and again, this blog has seen evidence of various people whose ballot failed to arrive after multiple calls to HQ, only for it to arrive almost instantly when they led their interlocutor to believe that they wanted to vote for Owen Smith.
As of the beginning of September, some 20,000 union members registered as eligible ‘affiliates’ via their union had not received their vote. No information is obtainable as to how many of these received them late, but it’s beyond question that some did not receive them at all. In addition to those eligible, an unknown number of affiliates were ‘vetted out’ and denied a vote. As we’re unable currently to quantify either of these properly, we won’t include them for the purpose of this analysis, but they shouldn’t be forgotten.
The worst best-case scenario
Using only those figures which are beyond question, it’s clear that at the very least an astounding total of 121,000 otherwise-eligible voters have been deprived of their say in the 2016 Labour leadership contest. And that’s on top of the 128,000 denied on the basis of an arbitrary 6-month cut-off.
Appalling – and appallingly ignored by the mainstream. But even more frightening is that these unparalleled anti-democratic actions appear to have been simply a diversion from the real, silent, Labour coup attempt that emerged yesterday, the success or failure of which still hangs in the balance.
Corbyn is still predicted to win comfortably when the results are announced this weekend. But three things are clear:
- that the fight is far from over, so diligence and resolve must not falter
- that there is something so deeply rotten at the heart of the party apparatus that removal is and can be the only cure
- that those who are pro-Corbyn members must not leave, as that is to grant those at the heart of the corruption their aim
- that those who are not yet members must continue to join and not be discouraged, because continued growth in the number of genuine, decent members is essential for the party and for the country