The Labour Party’s chief administrative body just made a decision that could have a really damaging impact on Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes of being re-elected as leader.
The National Executive Committee ruled on Thursday morning that Labour supporters will not be able to participate in the forthcoming leadership contest by joining an affiliated trade union, according to the New Statesman’s George Eaton.
This means members who joined after January 12 must pay a £25 fee to vote for their preferred party leader.
The ruling removed a loophole that meant members of less than six months would be able to vote without paying £25 by simply joining an affiliated union like Unite. This is significant because Corbyn supporters would likely have exploited this in their masses, given that Unite and other major unions remain firmly behind the veteran socialist.
This means that the outcome of the leadership contest could potentially be determined by which faction of Labour party supporters is more willing to part with £25: Corbynistas, or moderates who wish to see him removed.
Of course, there is no evidence to suggest that Corbyn’s supporters are less likely to pay the fee. But the NEC’s decision to block the affiliated union route undoubtedly takes a major advantage away from the under-pressure leader. This is why moderate Labour MPs who want to see Corbyn gone are appearing to feel more confident about replacing him.
Just last week, an unnamed rebel MP told The Telegraph that “he [Corbyn] will win easily in a second contest if he is on the ballot,” and another said “it’s done. It’s no good.” However, the mood is changing. An anonymous Labour rebel told Eaton on Thursday that Corbyn is now “absolutely beatable” as a result of the ruling.
This latest development in the Labour leadership saga comes just a few days after the NEC ruled that the Labour leader will automatically be on the ballot for the upcoming leadership contest. Corbyn’s critics argued that he should be required to secure nominations from 51 parliamentarians like his challenger Angela Eagle had to.
Yet, as Corbyn loses one major advantage, it looks like another could be emerging. Momentum — the grassroots left-wing group which supports the Labour leader — indicated on Wednesday that it is considering paying for Corbyn supporters to take part in the contest.
The group’s spokesman James Schneider told BBC radio that they will “take advice on whether that would be allowed” and confirmed that they are looking at the possibility.
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