Labour has been forced to extend the deadline to register to vote in its leadership election after its website crashed due to a last-minute swarm in sign-ups.
Those hoping to have a say in electing Labour's next leader now have until 3pm to register. It comes after a chaotic process whereby anyone can pay £3 to become a "registered supporter" and be given a vote in the election.
The party decided to change the deadline after visitors to its website earlier in the day were met with a "502 Bad Gateway" error message.
If you are trying to register as a supporter and are experiencing difficulties, the deadline has been extended to 3pm if you want to vote.— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) August 12, 2015
Jeremy Corbyn, the hard-left MP who has taken the contest by storm after starting as the rank outsider, last night urged his followers on social media to sign up before today’s deadline.
A number of Labour MPs have called for the process to be suspended over growing evidence that the contest has been infiltrated by members of rival political parties wanting to hijack the process. Labour has barred 1,200 supporters but has insisted the election will go ahead despite growing evidence of “entryism” by left-wingers.
Simon Danczuk , the MP for Rochdale, became the latest Labour MP to call for a rerun of the contest. Hundreds of candidates who stood against Labour in local or national elections have been banned from voting in the election, but they will not be refunded the £3 they paid to sign up.
Labour leadership: The Contenders
Labour leadership: The Contenders
1/4 Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn readily admits he is only standing to ensure the left of the party is given a voice in a contest dominated by candidates promising to move the party towards the centre-ground of British politics
Profiles by Matt Dathan
2/4 Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham is the current front-runner to win the leadership election according to bookmakers, but the fact that the Conservative party leadership hopes he wins shows the task that awaits if he is Ed Miliband’s successor. He will have to find a way of distancing himself from both the last five years under Mr Miliband and the Blair and Brown years, during which he served in the Cabinet
3/4 Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper will also face a battle in convincing voters she offers a sufficient break with the past, having served in Gordon Brown’s Cabinet and she played a key role in Mr Miliband’s team as shadow home secretary. The fact that her husband is Ed Balls will not have a negative impact internally but voters are not likely to look favourably on the prospect of Mr Miliband’s ousted shadow chancellor entering Downing Street if Ms Cooper wins in 2020
4/4 Liz Kendall
Liz Kendall faces criticism over her lack of experience – she was only elected in 2010 and has no experience of serving in government and wasn't even in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet. But that very lack of experience means she can make a pitch as the only candidate offering real change and a real break from the Blair/Brown/Miliband years
They include 214 from the Green Party, 37 from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, 13 Tories, seven from Ukip and one from the BNP.
High profile figures who have been barred include Tim Loughton, the former Conservative minister, and film director Ken Loach, who is a member of Left Unity.
Ed Miliband introduced the One Member, One Vote system after he won the 2010 leadership election due to the backing of trade unions, which enjoyed a block vote and accounted for one-third of the electoral college that chose the leader.
The reforms have led to 243,000 signing up as members or supporters since May’s general election. They now exceed the 201,000 full members the party had in May.
Labour insisted that its system is robust as it announced that it now has 282,000 full members, including 8,000 “awaiting verification”; 92,000 affiliated supporters from trade unions, 70,000 of whom are still to be verified and 70,000 registered supporters who have paid £3 to sign up, including 10,000 yet to be verified.
The deadline for applying is midday on 12 August and ballot papers will start to go out on 14 August. The first batches will go to people who were members before May, allowing the party more time to check the recruits. It is monitoring 20,000 social media accounts. Voting ends on September 10 with the result announced two days later. Labour said the process of stopping bogus supporters from influencing the contest will continue once the deadline for signing up passed.
On 11 August, senior Labour officials briefed the four leadership candidates in an attempt to reassure them the system is secure. But the officials were unable to say how many of the 70,000 registered supporters would be individually checked.