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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Labour plunged into further chaos

Just when we thought that the Labour Party could not get any more chaotic the inevitabe happened and their leadership contest was thrown into disarray by a court ruling that reinstated the voting rights of 130,000 members.

As the Guardian reports, a high court judgment, issued on Monday morning, struck down the six-month cut-off point imposed by the NEC for members to vote in the leadership contest, with Mr Justice Hickinbottom saying it was a breach of contract against the five new members who brought the case.

However, the Labour NEC has vowed to continue the fight. They issued a statement saying: “The procedures committee of the NEC has decided that the Labour party will appeal this ruling in order to defend the NEC’s right, as Labour’s governing body, to uphold the rule book, including the use of freeze dates.”

If they lose then Labour may have to refund the £25 paid by many of these members to secure a vote in the leadership contest. That could cost them millions of pounds.

For Labour MPs this ruling is a disaster. It effectively ends Owen Smith's challenge to Jeremy Corbyn and entrenches the Islington MP as the man who will lead Labour into the next General Election.

As if this were not bad enough for the Parliamentary Labour Party, Corbyn's supporters have swept the board in elections to the party’s ruling National Executive Committee.

The result of the NEC elections show that the six members elected to represent constituency Labour parties were Corbyn backers, while his critics, including current member Johanna Baxter, who recently complained about bullying in the party, and the comedian Eddie Izzard lost out.

These new NEC members will take up their seats after September’s annual party conference.

The Guardian reports that Labour MPs critical of Corbyn believe that the combination of the high court judgment and the triumph of the pro-Corbyn slate means that he has significantly tightened his grip on the leadership. “This is very, very, very bad news,” said one.

Is a formal split in the Parliamentary Labour Party imminent after all?
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