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Labour to use canvassing details to weed out leadership poll 'infiltrators'

Published 26/08/2015

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn wants to make all modes of transport safe for women
Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn wants to make all modes of transport safe for women

Labour is to use canvassing details gathered during the general election to weed out infiltrators trying to skew the leadership contest.

The party's procedure committee has decided the information should be deployed after the idea was raised at a crunch meeting with the four contenders yesterday.

A full breakdown of candidates' backing from union members, party members and registered supporters will also be published with the final result on September 12 in a bid to assuage concerns about the integrity of the process.

The move comes amid fears that Tories and the hard-left are attempting to secure victory for surprise frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "The procedure committee met today to receive feedback from yesterday's candidates' briefings. The following decisions were made:

"Canvassing material will be used to inform work to establish whether participants are supporters of the aims and values of the Labour Party.

"That as well as the one-person, one-vote overall result, the results of the Leader and Deputy Leader Elections will be broken down by Party Members, Affiliated Supporters and Registered Supporters. No other breakdown of the results will be provided."

The idea of using canvassing returns to cross-check whether the influx of new Labour supporters previously supported other parties is believed to have been rejected by the Procedure Committee last week.

However, s hadow health secretary Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall pushed for the move at the meeting with acting leader Harriet Harman in Stevenage yesterday.

Concerns were raised that party workers had managed to identify the social media profiles of only 45,000 of the hundreds of thousands of people who have signed up to vote in the contest.

It has emerged that the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Mark Serwotka, is among the 3,100 who have been refused a vote so far because they do not share the "aims and values" of the Labour Party.

He registered to vote through his membership of another union, the GMB, and backed Jeremy Corbyn - only to be told by email that it would not count.

He told the Press Association that he had voted precisely because he shared the "aims and values" of Mr Corbyn - a phrase Labour is using to ban thousands of people from taking part in the election.

Mr Serwotka said he had not been a member of any political party for 20 years, but decided to take part in the Labour leadership election because he agreed with Mr Corbyn's policies.

He added: "It is extraordinary to be told you cannot vote because you don't share Labour's values, when no-one (from the party) has spoken to me.

"I voted precisely because I share the aims and values of Jeremy Corbyn on anti-austerity, equality, a fair society and strong trade unions.

"Those are the messages I wanted to positively vote for. I have thought for some time we need a new approach to politics in Britain rather than the same old, same old, and that is what Jeremy Corbyn is offering."

Mr Serwotka said he hoped people would not be deflected from any attempt to destabilise the Labour leadership election process, and if anything, should be more determined to vote.

The PCS, which represents civil servants, is not affiliated to Labour and a party spokesman would not be drawn on Mr Serwotka's case, but said it was barring anyone who does not share its values and aims amid concerns about "infiltrators" in the contest.

Acting leader Harriet Harman has insisted there will be no doubt about the "integrity" of the Labour leadership contest.

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