UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Labour ballot: The curious case of the Tory and the vote

Andy Burnham has expressed concerns that Tories may have been given votes in the Labour leadership election and many in Corbyn’s camp have been quick to dismiss this as scaremongering, or as means to invalidate the election outcome. Parking politics to one side this election has turned into a very curious way to run a ballot.

I work with an former Tory councillor who has received several mail shots from candidates as a ‘registered supporter’. He hasn’t been mischievous about this but his name for one reason or another over the years got onto Labour mailing lists. He jokingly quipped that he could have registered three votes using different email addresses, family names and accounts if he could be bothered – because it really is that easy to register as a supporter.

Moreover the Labour Party like all others attract commercial exhibitors and sponsors to their conference and I know (having been one) that this then leads to party mail shots for future events - and links to the party website. At the last Labour Party conference when queuing to go through security some boorish morons were bragging to each other about being ‘at the wrong conference’. It turned out they were from a polling / lobbying firm that work predominantly for the Tory party. Precisely the kind of people with enough childish intent who could register as supporters and get a vote. What happened to the need to be a member of a party to have a say? The supposed validator checks on newly registered supporter would merely reveal they have previously been admitted to conference – job done.

It is not just Tories we should be worried about – whether or not you support Corbyn it is just plain wrong for other party members to piggy back on the Labour party’s own election. The fact that a Green party member or supporter (note the bleating of Jeremy Hardy) likes Corbyn doesn’t give them a right to a say in a party that they do not belong to – ‘registered supporter’ is an entirely naïve concept. On that basis we could open up our own General Secretary election to UNITE or GMB members because generally they are supportive of UNISON as fellow trade unionists. It is a nonsense. 

It is of course a legacy of the naivity of Milifandom – surround yourself with kids and goofy policy wonks and you get an election process that is just about fit to elect a school council.

Anna Rose

Tomorrow: Has the election re-engaged Labour supporters?