Article @ Morning Star, published 21 August 2015
Angry Labour backers accused the party of instigating a “purge” yesterday after hundreds of members received emails barring them from voting in the leadership election — including one of the party’s own council candidates.
Robert Sharpe, a two-time Labour candidate for Salford Council’s Walkden South seat, was caught up in yesterday’s mass expulsions and slammed the party’s “shambolic” response to entryism scare stories.
He said: “It’s been a bit of a shambles. I voted last night and this morning I had an email saying:‘We cancelled your membership, we rejected your application to be a member.’
“My membership got renewed about a month ago. It’s renewed every year. So I called the party and they said ‘We cancelled your membership and you’re not eligible to be a supporter.’ I said I’ve been a council candidate for the last few years, I’ve been a member for five years.’
“My MP has called to say the party has realised their mistake. They confused me with another Robert Sharpe, and they will ring me to apologise.”
Many took to social media to express their anger and disappointment at being barred from the election process.
The Labour Party has repeatedly argued that it wants “the widest number of supporters to have their say in Labour’s leadership contest,” but that it is scrupulously sifting through new applicants.
Those receiving rejection emails have been told that the party had reason to believe they did not support Labour’s “aims and values.”
Many were vetoed retroactively after they had cast their vote, raising concerns of “McCarthyite” style purges of the party’s left wing — in particular Corbyn voters.
Claims of far-left “entryism” have been instigated by the right-wing media since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid took up.
Comedian and writer Pete Sinclair, who was banned after receiving his ballot papers, said he had first backed Labour in 1979 and continued to “vote Labour solidly until Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq, which I couldn’t possibly support.”
But at the last elections he made it public knowledge he would be voting for the Green Party in the safe Labour seat of Greenwich, London.
“I passionately wanted Labour to beat the Tories” he argued, adding that his vote was cast “in order to show Labour that there were supporters to the left that needed to be won back to the party.
“The clincher is that I actually donated to the election campaign — £20.
“The same guy, Iain McNicol, whose name was on the email thanking me for my donation, telling me that I was a valued party supporter, is also on the email saying I am not allowed to vote.
“I would like to ask them if Tony Blair is getting a vote?
“Is being paid to advise the dictator of Kazakhstan consistent with the aims and values of the Labour Party?”