Labour’s head office is reportedly in chaos, with up to 100 staff trying to root out ineligible supporters, amid accusations that the hard left is infiltrating the party’s leadership election to support Jeremy Corbyn.
Senior figures from the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) attempted to pour water on claims that an orchestrated campaign by the far left had seen up to 1,000 infiltrators join the Labour Party.
“We are not recommending our members join,” said Judy Beishon, a member of the executive committee of the Socialist Party. “We have not been advising it. That said, we wish Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign well, and as an anti-austerity candidate we hope he wins.”
According to far-left activists, accusations of infiltration and “entryism” are no more than scaremongering by the media and the Labour right.
Judith Orr, the editor of Socialist Worker, said: “We are absolutely not joining Labour as individuals or advocating it as a party. We are a revolutionary socialist organisation … and don’t believe you can change society through parliament. In reality, the rise in membership and support of the Labour Party is a genuine phenomenon.”
Clive Heemskerk, a member of the TUSC steering committee, was equally dismissive of the allegations of entryism, but admitted that if he were “an angry 22-year-old” he might pay the £3 to become a Labour supporter and “have a go” at pro-austerity Labour candidates.
He said: “These new supporters are not really joining Labour. Instead they are paying £3 to make a statement against austerity. And we are clear in TUSC that we have not recommended our members join the Labour Party. We do not want to give a weapon to the Blairites on the right wing of the Labour Party who want to get the election declared null and void.”
John Reid, London regional organiser for the RMT union, said: “We are very supportive or him [Mr Corbyn] and we have said we back him … but there has been no orchestration. It has come from an overwhelming groundswell of support from our members. He has struck a chord with working people and trade unionists who see him as a new champion of the anti-austerity message. Hundreds of our members are joining the party.”