A couple of months ago you could sign up as a supporter of the Labour Party in order to vote in their leadership election, without having to state that you were not in an opposing organisation, or stating that you agreed with their aims and values. They added this requirement after a sudden influx of new members.
Here is a screenshot of the supporter sign-up page from back in May, from the WayBackMachine:
So, when I signed up I wasn’t asked to support the aims and values of the Labour Party, nor was I asked to confirm that I am not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it.
This requirement was lacking from the sign up form until at least 15 June 2015. I signed up because I support what Labour leadership contender and socialist, Jeremy Corbyn, could turn the Labour Party into. I pretty much support the broad and vague stated values of the Labour Party, those being “social justice, strong community and strong values, reward for hard work, decency, rights matched by responsibilities”. Although I think they could be improved. So, signing up as a Labour ‘supporter’ was truthful and not ‘bogus’. I was talking about a future potential Labour Party, and the old historical Labour Party. I don’t support what the Labour party is doing right now (like not voting against welfare cuts) or in recent years (going to war for example).
I am a member of the Socialist Party, who recently gave their support to Corbyn. The SP are not encouraging people to join the Labour Party, and disagree with the leadership voting method in which anybody can vote:
“It is highly ironic that an unintended consequence of the latest undemocratic rule changes, implemented under Miliband, is the current situation. The Labour leadership has become a virtual lottery in which any individual – Labour supporter or not – can potentially vote.
The result is people signing up for £3 to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. We do not support this electoral system, which is more akin to a US-style ‘primary’ than to a democratic election of a party leader.
Usually this system means that the membership of a party is dissolved into broader layers of the population, who are more influenced by the pro-capitalist propaganda from the mainstream media.
On this occasion however, despite the efforts of the capitalist press, given the groundswell of support for Corbyn, and the extreme weakness of the other candidates, it is possible he could win.
If this happens it would be a real step forward. It would mean, in effect, the formation of a new party.”
We may disagree with the method of voting for the Labour leadership, however, it is what it is, so in my personal opinion (not SP opinion), we have to use the current tools available to us, so it was fine for me to sign up to vote for Corbyn. Attempting to disengage with a broken system, will not change it.
There’s been lots of talk about ‘bogus’ Labour supporters this week, who have been signing up as ‘supporters’ (not members) for £3, in order to vote in the leadership election.
In this Guardian article, Harriet Harman says that, “Under the old system you could be card-carrying member of another party and you still got a vote. We are now requiring people to say if they are Labour party members or supporters.” They weren’t when I signed up in June, and I better get my vote as promised.
They’ll probably ‘weed me out’ now I’ve written this, despite my sign up certainly not being ‘bogus’. So be it. Talking about a party being ‘infiltrated’ by ‘hard left’ people is ridiculous – thousands of normal members of the public are signing up because they agree with, and want to support, a Labour Party candidate who speaks up for and gives hope to normal working class people – that is Jeremy Corbyn. If he is in the Labour Party and we agree with his values, surely that makes us supporters and valid to vote?
If you support Corbyn’s anti-austerity and feminist values – read this and sign up, and it’ll make up for me inevitably being ‘weeded out’.