The Labour Party boasts it has over half-a-million members, making it the largest political party in Europe.
But is this true?
Heat Street recently submitted 21 detailed questions about how Labour recruits and manages its members.
Labour refused to answer these questions.
Only the Labour Party is making claims about the size of its membership. They have refused to state that this number has been externally audited. There is enough evidence in the public domain that suggests this should be done.
Some members’ voting rights have been paid for using third-parties. In the party’s most recent leadership election, there were reports of numerous funds available to pay the £25 for new, presumably Corbyn-supporting, members to take part. This was a breach of party rules. Some of these were spotted by Labour’s Compliance Unit. Corbyn won the election by a landslide.
Little is known about Labour’s Compliance Unit. One of its functions is to ensure that party members comply with the rules. Members are not meant to support other parties. They may be ejected if there is evidence of “involvement in an organisation that has aims and values that are not compatible with that of the Labour Party”.
One reason for ejection is previous or current membership of a hard-left party or organisation. However, the Compliance Unit has been overwhelmed by the surge in membership.
It is reported that there are only six people working in the Compliance Unit. There has been an influx of about 400,000 ‘members’ in the last year. So that is 66,000 per member of staff to check. If the influx has been evenly spread over 200 working days in a year, this gives each staff member about 300 per day or about 36 per hour to look at, which means every new member is scrutinised somehow for less than two minutes.
In fact this has not happened. Only a fraction of the new members have been vetted to ensure they are not hard-left entryists. Labour has been overrun with people who do not share their aims and values.
How the Compliance Unit actually works is a party secret. Its methods of dealing with anti-Semitic members did not warrant any kind of mention in the widely-panned Chakrabarti report, which was described as ‘not worth the paper it was written on’.
This is despite the Compliance Unit’s failure to locate openly anti-Semitic behaviour by Labour Party members. This failure should have been an element of Chakrabarti’s inquiry. Instead, Labour’s anti-Semitic members were exposed by the Guido Fawkes website. All Labour could do was to react by suspending only those members exposed to minimise its embarrassment.
So Labour’s response to a surge in hard-left entryism and anti-Semitism is flawed. The party refuses to detail the workings of the Compliance Unit.
There is also the possibility of phantom members – people on the electoral roll who are listed as members but are unaware of their membership of the Labour Party. On this Labour has form.
Back in 2014, Karie Murphy was implicated in a confidential internal party report as having recruited people into the party by bullying or by misleading them to obtain their bank details. This was so their votes as new party members could be covertly used to select her as a candidate for a seat in the 2015 General Election after the siting MP was due to stand down. There were several cases of forged signatures on membership application documents.
In 2006, Marsha-Jane Thompson was convicted of electoral fraud and sentenced to 100 hours’ community service after registering over 100 fake voters.
Murphy is Corbyn’s Office Manager. Thompson was a full-time member of Corbyn’s leadership campaign, and senior enough to be part of Corbyn’s media photo-opportunity when he defended his leadership against Owen Smith. She also works for Momentum, Corbyn’s shadow party of die-hard supporters, some of whom recently stormed the Brighton Constituency Labour Party AGM to try to take it over.
The Labour Party refuses to state if either person has any involvement in the party’s membership process or if any measures have been implemented to exclude them from it.
Senior party figures now boast in live television interviews about the size of their membership as a way of promoting the party’s policies and its leader. Paradoxically, public opinion polls now show voter support for Labour as being the lowest for decades for this point in the electoral cycle.
In the recent Richmond by-election, Labour polled fewer votes than it has registered party members in the constituency. Even with postal and proxy voting, these party members still did not vote Labour on the appointed day. Labour has been unable to explain why some of their registered members did not vote for their party. The party came fourth in the poll and lost its deposit.
On the basis of the information above, television interviewers should be asking Labour to substantiate their boasts. They could ask why Labour refuses to answer straight questions about their membership while at the same time using their membership as a selling point for their policies and their leader.