Labour apologises for website crash as deadline for registering to vote in leadership contest looms

Visitors to website were met with error message as they tried to sign up before 12pm deadline

Matt Dathan
Wednesday 12 August 2015 12:30 BST
Labour leadership hopefuls: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall
Labour leadership hopefuls: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall (PA; Getty Images)

Labour has apologised after its website crashed with hours to go before the deadline to register for its leadership election.

Visitors wanting to sign up as a “registered supporter” were met with a "502 Bad Gateway" error message ahead of the midday deadline.

The Labour party apologised for the technical problems on Twitter.

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.

The leadership election has proved chaotic, with a number of MPs calling for the process to be suspended due to the ability for anyone to sign up for a vote in the election for just £3.

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 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.

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.

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