Harman rejects Labour ballot criticism

Harriet Harman
Harriet Harman
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LABOUR rejected one in seven of the applications to take part in its leadership ballot because the individuals could not be found on the electoral register.

More than 3,000 have also been barred from taking part after a party panel decided they did not share Labour’s “aims and values”.

The process for choosing the successor to Ed Miliband, in particular the decision to allow non-members to take part in return for a £3 fee, has come under fire from senior Labour figures and prompted calls for it to be suspended.

Amid suggestions that the result could be contested in the courts, the four candidates met to discuss their concerns today.

After the meeting acting leader Harriet Harman insisted the contest will continue on its current schedule.

She said: “I am confident that there won’t be questions over the integrity of the result and there aren’t any bases for legal challenges.”

Ms Harman added that “those people who don’t support the aims and values of the Labour Party are not entitled to vote and we will continue the process of verification, of making sure that those who do not support our aims and values but are trying to vote - trying to cheat their way into the system - that they are identified and their vote is cancelled”.

“That will carry on right up until the last minute,” she said.

Boasts from Conservative supporters that they have managed to secure a vote and stories of people registering their pets have raised doubts about the checks carried out on those who have asked to take part.

The latest figures from Labour show more than 550,000 people will have a vote in the leadership election.

The number of full party members has grown by more than 100,000 since the General Election in May.

Surprise frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn insisted the concerns expressed about the process were exaggerated.

“Are there any Tory infiltrators? I think there has been a lot of nonsense in the papers. 600,000 people have either joined the Labour Party or signed up as supporters, we should be pleased about that,” he said.

“There are a few Tory MPs I understand tried to register, got rejected. End of story.”

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham confirmed that he would not attempt to challenge the result in court even if he was narrowly defeated.

“I wouldn’t want to overstate this whole issue, but there is some evidence that Tories are signed up to vote,” he told the audience at a hustings in Stevenage.

“I was in a meeting in Milton Keynes on Sunday when one stood up in the audience and said he had voted in our contest.

“It is for the party to decide. All we want to ensure is that they have been properly implemented and all the information the Labour Party has about these things has been properly used,” he said.

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “We shouldn’t be drawing up the rules for this election.

“That should be a matter for the Labour Party, they have got to make sure that proper robust checks are in place.

“And we must not get distracted into just talking about process when there are so many big ideas, so many people still left to vote.”

Voting has already begun and the results of the leadership and deputy leadership contests are due to be announced on September 12.