Monday, August 8, 2016

Sunk without a trace, five new Labour members have won High Court battle over leadership election vote, NEC decision to deny members the right to vote deemed unlawful, leadership hopeful Owen Smith’s campaign is looking worse than the Titanic hitting an iceberg

Dear All

Under human rights law a person is entitled to be part of a free and fair election, this doesn’t just apply to candidates, it also applies to voters.

One thing which you are aware of is that different people have different ideas on what represents fair.

The Labour Party leadership contest isn’t what I would describe as ‘comradely’, and I suspect many people would go much further.

Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t resign so someone went to court in an attempt to keep him off the ballot that fell through as I suspected it won’t.

Now, we have a new court case, this time round five new Labour members have won High Court battle over leadership election vote after they paid their dues and found out they weren’t getting a vote.

So what is a Labour Party membership?

In a nutshell it is a contract which is subject to Law.

And if you feel that the contract hasn’t been upheld you can seek redress as the five Labour members have done!
The five accused the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) of unlawfully "freezing" them and many others out of the high-profile contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

My view on the cut off should be the moment that the contest was officially declared, other people will have different views.

It was wrong that the NEC decided that full members would not be able to vote if they had not had at least six months' continuous membership up to July 12 - the "freeze date".

And it was in my opinion wrong that to gain the right to vote, members were given a window of opportunity, between July 18 and 20, to become "registered supporters" on payment of an additional fee of £25.

Free and fair elections are important not just for a political party but for society, no one likes to feel that they have been cheated out of a democratic right.

So at court Mr Justice Hickinbottom, sitting in London has ruled that refusing the five the vote "would be unlawful as in breach of contract".

Although the five have won their case, there is a knock on effect; it could mean that almost 130,000 Labour supporters who are victims of the freeze now have to get their voting rights return to them.

The judge said at the time each of the five joined the party "it was the common understanding, as reflected in the rule book, that, if they joined the party prior to the election process commencing, as new members they would be entitled to vote in any leadership contest".

So, if you don’t know Law the rule is quite straight forward, people had a right, and the right was withdrawn by the NEC which was unlawful.

The Labour Party was given permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal however, given the ruling was in my opinion clear cut it would seem a waste of cash to fight what is a loser of a case.

Kate Harrison, solicitor for the claimants, said in a statement:

"This case was about the right to vote under the Labour Party constitution, under which all members are equal and valued. This is a good day for democracy, a good day for my clients who are proud to be members of the party that stands for social justice, and a good day for the Labour Party. It is particularly important for young Labour Party members that the party constitution allows them to vote."

She added:

"This case is not about who the members might vote for. It is about the equal right of all members to be heard in the leadership election process. I am sure the Labour Party is proud to have members who fight for the right to vote, and internal election processes that are thoroughly democratic and have helped to attract a membership that now stands at approximately 500,000."

A Labour spokesman said:

"It is right that the Labour Party seeks to defend vigorously decisions of the National Executive Committee in this matter, and we will now study this judgment carefully."

How much better would it be if the party had a case of being wronged, in this case, I find it hard to see how defending people on the NEC who got it wrong is desirable.

Someone better nip off to the printers and get another 130,000 voting papers run up!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

1 comment:

Smudge said...

Been reading about that fucking leech Salmond pocketing another £30.000 of taxpayers money. What a hypocrite this arsehole is. Scotland is DOOMED with these SNP basTURDS running the RatShip.