Who will replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader?

Labour candidate calls for leadership contests to be suspended over fresh data controversy

Labour bosses under fire after suddenly refusing access to full membership lists from Friday, as promised

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
@Rob_Merrick
Thursday 13 February 2020 20:33
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A candidate is calling for the contests to be Labour’s new leader and deputy to be suspended in yet another controversy about the party’s use of data.

Rosena Allin-Khan, who is running to be deputy, urged fellow candidates to adopt her stand – after Labour suddenly refused access to full membership lists from Friday, as promised.

She protested it would leave some members voting without having been contacted directly by the candidates, when the ballot finally opens in a week’s time – penalising those lesser-known.

The fresh controversy comes hard-on-the-heels of Labour reporting Keir Starmer, the leadership favourite, to the data watchdog over data-hacking allegations which he strongly denies.

Before that, The Independent revealed how his chief rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey, broke the rule on contacting members but was quietly cleared by Jeremy Corbyn’s allies.

Ms Allin-Khan said: “We were supposed to get the data tomorrow but are now told it’ll be Saturday and we’ll only be sent data on some members/supporters, not all.

“It is my belief that the ballot should be postponed until all the data is processed and each campaign has had a decent amount of time to access it. Otherwise, the most well-known candidates will have an unfair advantage.

“I hope every candidate for leader and deputy will agree – as well as their supporters. This needs to be a fair contest, and delaying the start of the ballot will ensure its integrity.”

Ms Allin-Khan pointed out that candidates were being asked to pay £5,000 each to tap into the membership lists and contact the race’s voters themselves.

Labour, howver, insisted full data on members would be released on Saturday, but admitted there would be delay before the release from affiliates, who are the trade unions and other supportive organisations.

There was no immediate comment from any of the other candidates in either race, with Angela Rayner the hot favourite to be chosen as the new deputy.

The row comes as Emily Thornberry waits to learn whether she has secured enough backing from local constituency parties to stay in the leadership race, with support from 33 parties required.

All the candidates in the deputy race – who also include Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Ian Murray – already enjoy sufficient support.

The Starmer camp reacted with fury to the accusations against him, describing them as “utter nonsense” and calling for the complaint to be withdrawn.

Ms Long-Bailey was also dragged into the row over sharing links to a Labour phone-banking system called Dialogue with volunteers, potentially allowing access to more than half a million party members prematurely – which she in turn denied.

Voting is meant to get underway on 21 February, with the successor to Mr Corbyn declared on 4 April.

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