Why Britain’s Labour Party has kicked out voters

EPA/HANNAH MCKAY

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to Labour party members and supporters at the final leadership rally in London, Britain, 21 August 2016.

Why Britain’s Labour Party has kicked out voters


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Britain’s opposition Labour Party has expelled a number of voters from its leadership rolls. Now social media is alight with angry posts by those who say they were kicked out because they support Jeremy Corbyn.

According to an article in The Statesman, however, Labour is not purging its rolls of Corbyn supporters. Instead, Labour has stringent rules about expressing support for other candidates and membership of other parties, which account for the bulk of the expulsions. It also has a code of conduct on abusive language which is also thinning the rolls, with supporters of both candidates being kicked off.

According to The Statesman, even though Labour is in significantly better financial shape than last year, it still is running a skeleton staff and is recovering from an expensive contest (in this case, to keep Britain in the European Union). The compliance unit itself remains small, so once again people from across the party staff have been dragooned in.

The process this year is pretty much the same: Labour party headquarters doesn’t have any bespoke software to match its voters against a long list of candidates in local elections, compiled last year and added to the list of candidates that stood against Labour in the 2016 local and devolved elections, plus a large backlog of complaints from activists.

It’s that backlog that is behind many of the highest-profile and most controversial examples like Ronnie Draper, the general secretary of the Bfawu, the bakers’ union. One of Corbyn’s biggest supporters in the trade union movement, he was expelled, reported for tweets which included the use of the word “traitors” to refer to Labour opponents of Corbyn.  Jon Will Chambers, former bag carrier to Stella Creasy, and a vocal Corbyn critic on Twitter, has also been kicked out for using a “Theresa May” twibbon to indicate his preference for May over Andrea Leadsom, in contravention of the party’s rules, reported The Statesman.

In a separate report, The Guardian noted that Draper admitted the action was supposedly taken over something he wrote on social media. Labour refused to comment, saying the party did not discuss national executive committee (NEC) decisions on individual members.

Draper’s union is among those backing Corbyn in his leadership battle against Owen Smith. He has regularly tweeted in support of Corbyn, saying a vote for him was “a vote for progressive, compassionate, working-class policies”.

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