Trade unionists are being politically screened for Labour leadership vote, party confirms

Being a trade unionist is no longer enough to have the same values as Labour

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Indy Politics

Trade unionists offered votes in the Labour leadership election are having their ballots revoked for contravening the party's "aims and values", it has been confirmed.

Members of affiliated trade unions have long been entitled to vote in Labour leadership elections, including under the previous electoral college system.

Under the old system, in place since the 1990s, all union members were automatically entitled to vote as part of the electoral college regardless of how they had voted in the election.

However a Labour spokesperson confirmed that under the system being used this time, union affiliates were being politically screened and some denied votes if they supported other parties.

The implication of the change is that being a trade unionist is no longer enough to be welcome in the Labour party.

A total of 41,521 “affiliate” ballot papers – including those of unions like Unite, Unison and GMB, and affiliated organisations like the Co-operative Party and Fabian Society – have been voided.

The party say most of these are to remove duplicate ballots from people who are also Labour members or so-called “£3” supporters.

Labour says it has booted out 3,138 people accused of foul play, including 1,900 Green Party supporters compared with just 400 Conservatives.

Acting leading Harriet Harman told BBC News yesterday: “Those people who don’t support the aims and values of the Labour party are not entitled to vote. We will continue the process of verification right up until the last minute.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka

High profile trade unionists barred from the contest include PCS trade union general secretary Mark Serwotka.

Though the PCS union is not affiliated with Labour, Mr Serwotka was initially entitled to cast a vote through his dual membership of the GMB trade union, which is an affiliate.

His ballot was retroactively cancelled after he voted however, a ruling described by his partner Ruth Serwotka as “a total joke”.

Yesterday morning on BBC Radio 5Live frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn said any influx of genuine supporters should be welcomed “because that's how parties grow".

Voting in the contest is underway, with the winner announced at a special party conference in September.