Corbyn gets huge re-election boost following High Court ruling
Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of winning his re-election campaign received a huge boost today following a legal ruling that about 130,000 new Labour members will be able to vote in the party’s leadership election.
The decision puts Mr Corbyn firmly on track to remain leader as the majority of those who have signed up since the beginning of the year are believed to support him.
The case in the High Court centred on a claim from five new members who challenged the party’s National Executive Committee decision to bar people who had not been members for more than six months.
The move was criticised at the time as an attempt to stop supporters of Mr Corbyn from taking part in the election.
Stephen Cragg QC, representing the five members, argued that Labour’s internal rules did not specify a distinction between which members could and could not vote.
He successfully argued that the NEC’s decision amounted to a breach of contract with those who had paid to sign up as a member or registered supporter since January.
Mr Justice Hinckinbottom said the claimants had been “entirely successful”, adding: “These people have paid their dues for the legal right to vote in the forthcoming leadership election.”
The ruling could spark more controversy as thousands of people paid £25 during a specially convened two-day window in July in order to vote in the election.
Had the NEC not decided to bar new members from voting, they would have been able to pay just £3 to become registered supporters and vote for Mr Corbyn or his rival Owen Smith.
Mr Corbyn has said that it is not inevitable he would resign as leader if the party lost the next election and has argued that a huge Conservative lead in the opinion polls is not borne out by the results of recent council by-elections which have seen Labour successes.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said in July Mr Corbyn would stand aside should Labour lose at the next general election, adding: “Any Labour leader who loses an election usually goes.”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Mr Corbyn suggested he could remain at the helm of the party even after a general election defeat:
Look, nothing is inevitable. And let’s not start predicting the results of the next general election, which may be four years away.
I’m campaigning for the leadership of the party at the moment, again.
I’m very happy to be doing that. I’ve been travelling the whole of the UK, but we are also doing it in a slightly different way to last year.
We are visiting a lot of places we didn’t go to last year because there wasn’t time. We are also using it to campaign more openly and more publicly on how we bring back in communities that have been left behind by the Tories. And the crowds are even bigger than last year.
Owen Smith is vying with Mr Corbyn for the party leadership, while the party is currently trailing the Tories by 14-points in the most recent polling.
When asked whether he was prepared to step down if the polls remain stagnant and Labour continued to lost seats in council elections, Mr Corbyn said:
The party members control what happens. They will decide, one way or another.
You talked about polls, that’s fair enough. Yesterday there were a number of [council] by-elections. Labour gained in Newcastle-under-Lyme with a 19 per cent swing to Labour, we lost one in Nottinghamshire narrowly to UKIP, gained the other from UKIP, big swing to Labour in a by-election in Brighton yesterday, on a pretty substantial turnout for a local election.
The results that we have actually achieved, the actual votes that have been cast, are far better than anything the opinion polls say.
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