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Labour MP Says Vetting Process For Leadership Election Is "Full Of Holes"

Dozens of Labour supporters claim that their applications to vote in the party's leadership elections have been wrongfully rejected.

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A Labour MP has criticised the process for vetting new members after dozens of people who claimed to be genuine supporters had their applications to become registered supporters rejected.

Paul Ellis / AFP / Getty Images
Dominic Lipinski / PA Archive/PA Images

Dominic Lipinski / PA Archive/PA Images

Huge numbers of Labour supporters have been complaining about the situation on Twitter using the #LabourPurge hashtag.

In numerous cases, it has been claimed, the party has trawled through the social media profiles of individuals and rejected those who have expressed support in the past for another party, such as having liked another party's official page on Facebook.

Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall, who is backing Andy Burnham, told BuzzFeed News that the vetting process meant some genuine supporters who should have the chance to join the party were losing out.

"I think the process was designed with the right intentions but is absolutely full of holes," she said. "But not just from the point that keeps being put across in the media that this is all about awful people trying to infiltrate.

"It's actually being quite unfair to some decent people who have seen this as a chance and an opportunity and time to get back involved in politics as the Labour party has been asking them to do."

She cited the example of Jason Cobb, a website editor based in south London. Both Cobb and Hoey believe his application was rejected by local officials in his local Labour group after he wrote a blog post about a local councillor filing an online petition to delay the leadership vote.

"I want to campaign locally for what I believe are Labour values," Cobb told BuzzFeed News. He'll reapply, he said, if Jeremy Corbyn or Andy Burnham win.

Would-be supporter Grace Nancy claimed that she was rejected after retweeting something by director Ken Loach.

@EmilyMaiden nope, had the email this morning! Rang them and they told me I'd retweeted something by ken loach at some point... Ridiculous

In 2014, Loach criticised the main parties and wrote a piece for The Guardian which said that "Labour is part of the problem". Nancy wrote in a follow-up tweet that she had no idea who Loach is.

On this specific point, Labour did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. However, a spokesperson for the Labour party said: "While we want the widest number of supporters to have their say in Labour's leadership contest, the Labour party has a robust system to prevent fraudulent or malicious applications. [Editor's note: We attempted to fact-check this claim and could not find proof.]

"All applications are verified against the electoral register, and any who are identified by our verification team or by local Labour branches as not sharing the aims or values of the Labour party will be denied a vote."

In another instance Robert Sharpe, who had been a party member for five years and was on the committee of the North West Young Labour group, has also been rejected.

Labour MP Barbara Keeley reached out to Sharpe to say that she would "vouch for" him.

@robert_a_sharpe Have sent you email Rob, let me know what I can do to vouch for you as Walkden membr/candidate @ClrLeighDrennan @NWYoungLab

But part of the problem is that there isn't an official appeals process.

Hoey said: "The right of appeal should've been built into it [the application process] if you've got a system where you're ruling people out."

Pete Sinclair, who posted a photo to prove that he donated £20 to the party in April, said he was rejected because the party believed he did not support the party's "aims and values".

I am a Labour supporter. The Labour Party owes me an apology - and a vote in the leadership election. #LabourPurge

It appears that the party is rejecting applications from people who have previously supported the Greens, too, even if they clearly – and publicly – want to switch allegiance.

@dats Email I've just sent to @jeremycorbyn's head office

A spokesperson for the Labour party said: "While we want the widest number of supporters to have their say in Labour's leadership contest, the Labour party has a robust system to prevent fraudulent or malicious applications.

"All applications are verified against the electoral register, and any who are identified by our verification team or by local Labour branches as not sharing the aims or values of the Labour party will be denied a vote."

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

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