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The Labour Party Let This Cat Vote In Its Leadership Election

How tough are Labour's internal checks for new members? BuzzFeed News registered a cat to find out.

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Amid growing concerns about outsiders infilitrating the Labour leadership race, BuzzFeed News managed to get a vote for this cat.

Hayley Campbell / BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed News registered Ned, a three-year-old tabby belonging to one of our journalists, as a Labour party supporter earlier this month and he has since been sent a ballot paper, enabling us to vote in the contest for the party’s next leader in the name of a cat.

This is despite Labour’s pledge to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of applications it received over the summer from new supporters were actually from real people who appear on the electoral roll.

Ned does not appear on the electoral roll because Ned is a cat.

The revelation follows this week's purge by Labour HQ of hundreds of people who had signed up to vote in the leadership election.

Many were rejected following evidence they had recently supported other parties, although some of the people deprived of a vote insist they have always been loyal to Labour.

BuzzFeed News has previously shown it is possible to steal votes from users who have uploaded pictures of their Labour leadership ballots to social media, while many supporters of the Conservatives and Lib Dems claim they have been able to register to vote in the contest.

Meanwhile, leaked notes passed to the Guardian this week suggest the party "disregarded advice of lawyers to add [an] extra verification stage for new members" in order to protect the party against a legal challenge following the result.

It cost just £3 to sign Ned up as a registered supporter of Labour.

Hayley Campbell / BuzzFeed

All that was required was his home address, date of birth – we calculated Ned’s human age to be 29 using this cat age calculator – and contact details. We set up a Hotmail address for this purpose, soupycampbell1986@hotmail.com, because we reckoned Ned would be the sort of cat that would still use Hotmail.

On Ned's behalf we ticked the box saying the cat endorsed the values of the Labour party. Hayley Campbell, who owns Ned, said that in reality he had rarely expressed any political views other than "he doesn't like Irish people".

However she noted that "both his collar and a bow-tie are red", which could point towards a Labour affinity.

Within days, the newly enfranchised feline voter began receiving a torrent of emails addressed to "Dear Ned" from candidates for the various elections, in addition to countless leaflets through his door.

Ned studied all the election material very seriously while making up his mind.

Hayley Campbell / BuzzFeed

When it came to voting, Ned had several options: Andy Purr-nham, Yvette Coo-paw, and Mew Labour candidate Liz Kat-ndall were all in contention.

However, in common with many of the influx of new supporters, it was the left-wing leadership candidate Jeremy Claw-byn who ultimately received Ned's vote.

We assisted Ned in the process of filling out his online Labour leadership ballot as he struggled to type, by virtue of being a cat.

Sadly for Ned we immediately informed the Labour party that his vote should not have been allowed and warned them to remove it from the ballot, because Ned is a cat.

Hayley Campbell / BuzzFeed

The party has the ability to retrospectively remove voting rights from people who have already returned their ballot, meaning Ned is now set to find himself disenfranchised in this leadership election.

If we had not informed the party, there is nothing to immediately suggest that a similar attempt to register using an animal’s name and a disposable email address would have been excluded from the vote. Ned had no social media presence and no voter record, meaning there was nothing to check his identity against.

A Labour spokesperson insisted that verification checks are still ongoing throughout the contest and said Ned's vote could have been caught at a later stage because the cat is not on the electoral roll.

Ned has no plans to pursue further political activism.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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