Published on 7 Aug 2015 Sections ,

Labour entryists: the left activists joining to back Corbyn

As Labour faces allegations of ‘entryism’ threatening its leadership contest, Channel 4 News hears from members of other parties who say Jeremy Corbyn is appealing to all parts of the left.

Labour is battling claims that Trotskyists, Green party members and other socialist and left-wing parties are signing up to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election.

Mr Corbyn has played down claims about the apparent return of “entryism” insisting that only people who support the party should sign up to vote in the contest.

There is enemy within the labour party, it’s small, it’s ideological, it’s fanatical and guess what? That’s the Blairites
Aaron Bastani

But leading figures from other left-wing parties told Channel 4 News that it is precisely the principles of the anti-austerity candidate that is proving so attractive to their members.

Green party member Aaron Bastani told Channel 4 News that the co-chair for the standing committee for the Green Party has said registering as a supporter – as he has – is perfectly permissible.

“The Green Party is more comfortable with political pluralism than the Labour Party is.”

Mr Bastani added: “There is enemy within the labour party, it’s small, it’s ideological, it’s fanatical and guess what? That’s the Blairites.

“The hundreds and thousands of normal people who represent what they view as moderate politics are the people that the Blairites view as the fanatics.”

The Times today claim that up to 18 former and current members of the national council of Left Unity, a hard-left party founded by Ken Loach, have also attempted to register to vote.

Its spokesman told Channel 4 News: “We’re in unchartered territory. It’s entirely possible that labour could split and the Blairites could split – or Corbyn may form a cabinet of like-minded people.”

Around 65,000 of Labour’s 275,000 full members have joined since the May general election. Another 35,000 have paid £3 to become registered supporters, which gives them a vote in the leadership contest.

A further 35,000 trade union members have signed up for free as affiliated supporters. The cut-off date is 12 August, after which voting will start. No ballot papers have yet been sent out.

Those who are identified by our verification team as being candidates, members or supporters of another political party will be denied a vote
The Labour Party

The Times says it has handed Labour the names of all 29 individuals, which are expected to be reviewed and dealt on a case-by-case basis.

Earlier this week Harriet Harman, Labour’s acting leader, sent all Labour MPs the names of the recruits in their constituencies, and asked them to weed out known opponents.

“As an MP, your local knowledge and information is important to uphold the integrity of the leadership election,” she wrote in a letter. The names of new recruits are being sent to local party officials “in real time”.

They have been asked to “check there aren’t any people known to them to be members of other parties, or who do not support the Labour Party”.

Social media, direct mailing data and the electoral register are among the methods expected to be used, while the party has beefed-up the number of people working on the recruitment process.

But there are a number of issues to consider. What happens to left-wing supporters whose values align more with Jeremy Corbyn than the Labour party? Or previous infect to defect to Labour in order to support Mr Corbyn?

Around 65,000 of Labour’s 275,000 full members have joined since the May general election. Another 35,000 have paid £3 to become registered supporters, which gives them a vote in the leadership contest. A further 35,000 trade union members have signed up for free as affiliated supporters. The cut-off date is 12 August, after which voting will start.

Labour says no ballot papers have yet been sent out and the verification process will be carefully administered to avoid any clashes.

A spokesman told Channel 4 News: “The Labour Party has a robust system to prevent fraudulent or malicious applications. All applications to join the Labour Party as a member, affiliate or supporter are verified and those who are identified by our verification team as being candidates, members or supporters of another political party will be denied a vote.”

A Green Party spokesperson said: “The Green Party of England and Wales has made no attempt to influence the Labour leadership contest in any way and has no intention to do so. We respect the democratic decision-making processes of other political parties.”