As Mark Wallace wrote recently, we shouldn’t presume that Jeremy Corbyn will win Labour’s leadership election – though he is certainly the front-runner and likely victor. May’s General Election result was a reminder that even polls taken very close to political events may not be in line with the results, and those showing Corbyn well ahead in the contest were mostly taken in July.
But whoever the winner is when the result is declared on Saturday, Labour’s turbulent election seems to be making an impact on our own Party members. At present, one can join the Party for a little as £1. Robert Halfon, now the Party’s Deputy Chairman, and others have floated free membership – a proposal which this site looks on sympathetically.
However, only full members (that’s to say, those signed up for £25) are entitled to vote in Party elections. Labour’s new leadership election system sweeps away this kind of distinction. Registered supporters can join the Party for £3. Affiliated supporters have been able to join via the unions. All are entitled to vote in the contest – and, if the polls are right, are heavily for Corbyn.
Our Party member survey respondents clearly don’t want to follow Labour’s example. 75 per cent of Party member respondents to it believe that members and registered supporters should not have the same constitutional rights, such as the right to vote in the coming Party leadership election: 21 per cent think that they should, and the rest don’t know.
As I wrote yesterday, one of the themes of the survey responses is that members are protective of the power of Associations and their own rights. So it was never likely that any proposal to, say, extend the franchise in Party leadership elections would win their backing. But it is hard to believe that the Corbyn factor hasn’t had an impact – both in these results and on CCHQ’s own plans.