LABOUR’S NEC has placed the Luton North and Luton South branches in ‘special measures’ due to accusations of ‘membership abuse’ seeking to rig the selection of candidates.
To select candidates for upcoming elections, local branches must hold elections whereby registered members can vote for their preferred candidate.
Yet this process is open to abuse, with devious members signing-up large numbers of friends and family – some who live in the constituency, and some simply pretending to – to vote for their chosen candidate and thus rig the election.
The two branches, which are heavily dominated by members of the asian community, saw a sudden and dramatic signing-up of friends and family members to influence the results of candidate selections ahead of the 2023 elections.
Labour’s rulebook states that “higher than average join rates ahead of meetings such as those to select candidates” can be evidence that a local party should be placed into special measures by the NEC.
Local members have been told by the regional director of Labour East that the decision was taken “in order to safeguard the integrity of our CLPs [Constituency Labour Parties], our internal democratic procedures and our selection processes”.
The below email, sent to members of both branches, was forwarded on to VoteWatch:
The regional director wrote: “We have a duty to ensure that our CLPs are properly run and are able to operate in an inclusive and supportive environment.
“It is of the upmost importance that CLPs have fair, open and accessible selection processes. In order to ensure this is the case in Luton, the NEC will conduct a membership audit, to verify local membership lists.”
Being placed in special measures means that anyone applying for party membership in the constituency of Luton will now be asked for two additional pieces of identification proving they live at the address cited, to ensure new members are genuine.
This, however – although a small security step – does not prevent the crooked activity from taking place, with friends and family members signing-up being able to simply state that they are joining on genuine grounds.
It can, however, reduce the number of crooked applications from people who do not even live in the constituency.
A local Labour source confirmed: “Eyebrows were raised when we saw that membership of the two CLPs had risen by over 100 per cent over the past six months.
“About 90 per cent of those joining the party did so at a reduced rate, often reserved for those who are unemployed or very low waged.
“Some of these new members even shared the same payment details. And worryingly a high number where not even on the electoral register.
“In one instance we found there were 14 individuals who where registered living in a two bedroomed house.”