Labour supporters who have joined the party to vote in the leadership election are being barred from voting, accusing the party of “McCarthyite” purges, Channel 4 News has learned.
Supporters who joined the party in recent months – as £3 affiliates or fully fledged members – have been written to by the party telling them they will not be allowed to vote in September’s election.
The Labour Party has said they have a robust system to prevent “fraudulent or malicious applications” and all applications to join the Labour Party are verified those who are identified as being candidates, members or supporters of another political party will be denied a vote.
Furious would-be voters, including the Have I Got News For You writer Peter Sinclair, have taken to Twitter to express their fury. The hashtag #LabourPurge was trending on Twitter on Thursday morning.
TWEE @UKLabour explain!
— Luke Wright (@lukewrightpoet) August 20, 2015
Mr Sinclair had his £3 application to join the Labour party rejected this morning.
He said he was “shaking with anger” at the news that he could not vote for a candidate and party that he supported.
He told Channel 4 News that he voted tactically for the Green party in May 2015 because he lived in a safe seat and campaigned for other people in marginal seats to vote Labour, even donating £20 to the party in the final weeks before the election.
“If Jeremy Corbyn became leader I would be completely a Labour supporter, I would be completely and utterly happy to vote for them and I would tell everyone else to vote Labour. I would campaign for Labour.”
I wasn’t what the party wanted Rosie Fletcher, 25
Rosie Fletcher, 25, a part-time student who writes for the New Statesman, told Channel 4 News she joined Labour as a full member and believes that she is being punished for leaving the party and then rejoining. The Labour Party has since said her barring was an ‘administrative error’.
She said: “I originally joined the party after the tuition fees trebled in 2010 but found as the last term went on that Labour’s response, especially on welfare and austerity, was very weak and I left the party.
“When this election happened, I realised it was much better to be in the party and fighting the good fight than outside and complaining. I rejoined enthusiastically the weekend after the election – long before the leadership race got going.”
Well now this is awkward. You go on television to talk enthusiastically about being a Labour member and then they reject your membership.
— Rosie (@rosieatlarge) August 20, 2015
She said it was then with “some surprise” that she “woke to an email this morning telling me I wasn’t what the party wanted. I’m really disappointed and more than a little angry – it seems so arbitrary and also wrong of them to be rejecting people who want to support them and have done so with such enthusiasm.”
A Labour spokesperson has since said that blocking Miss Fletcher was an “administrative error”. A process is ongoing to get her registered.
Jenny Morris, a former Labour councillor and a life-long Labour member, has complained to the party after her daughter’s application to join Labour and vote in the election was rejected.
Her daughter, who does not want to be named, has never joined any political party but is a lifelong Labour voter and wanted to support Jeremy Corbyn, her childhood MP, in his campaign to become the party’s leader.
Her mother, a former Labour councillor in Islington, told Channel 4 News: “My daughter hasn’t joined any organisation. It is not the sort of thing that she would do – but she has voted Labour since she was 18 and wanted to vote in the leadership election.
“I just find it completely inexplicable. She has tried searching her name on Google to see if anything has come up that would make it look like she is a member of something, but nothing has come up – to me it feels very McCarthyite. I am furious.
“She wanted to vote for Jeremy he has been an our MP throughout her childhood.
“A year after he was elected in 1983 I had an accident which means I am paralysed and am now in a wheelchair and Jeremy was one of the people who was first to visit me in the hospital. She was just over a year old at that time but she knows this, and she knows that he is a very nice person and she wanted to vote for him. She supports what he stands for, most importantly.”
Some of those expressing outrage that they have been barred from becoming Labour members appear to have, or freely admit to having, links and memberships to other parties and far left groups.
Redfern Jon Barrett, 31, a writer living Berlin, freely admits he that he is a member of the Green party but says that he “bemused” that Labour do not want to win him back when he is ready to return to the fold.
He said he signed up to the Green party before the 2015 election because he did not support Ed Miliband’s leadership but signed up as a £3 member after the May defeat because he saw them as “the best way to combat the Tories”.
He told Channel 4 News: “My desire to join Labour is sincere. I don’t want to join the party to be an entryist or to stitch up Labour, but it is actually because, for the first time in a long time I am enthusiastic about Labour.
“I don’t understand how the party which lost so badly at the election hopes to win at the next one without winning back former supporters? I am asking to be won back and instead I am being barred from the leadership election.
“I would give up my Green party membership for a chance to vote for the Labour leadership – my loyalties are to policies. I want a progressive system.”
It comes after the founder of a Twitter campaign for Conservative voters to elect Jeremy Corbyn in an attempt to sabotage the party said he successfully received three ballots despite being a member of the Conservative party.
Andrew Wylie, who uses the pen name Charlie Mortimer, said he registered as a supporter of the Labour party using his first name, his middle name and his wife’s name.
Matt Beresford, 40 an IT professional and a Labour member who has voted in the leadership election, is compiling a database of those who say they have been unfairly banned. He says over 100 have contacted him so far.
“We are seeing very cookie cutter rejections, saying that the reasons for rejection is that you ‘do not support the views of the party’. I think if they had actually evidence, that they were a member of the Green party already for example, people would generally say fair enough.
“But generic rejections seem unfair. Our hope is that the appeals process will allow the genuine people to have their vote counted. We still have a long time to the final deadline.”