Sebastian Payne

Harriet Harman: we are not purging Corbyn supporters

Harriet Harman: we are not purging Corbyn supporters
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The summit on the integrity of the Labour leadership contest is over and interim leader Harriet Harman described it as a ‘routine’ and ‘useful’ meeting. Although she is ‘confident that there won’t be questions over the integrity of the result and there aren’t any bases for legal challenges’, some of the numbers released on the number of infiltrators are pretty high.

3,000 ‘cheats’, as Harman described them, have been excluded from voting so far but the final number could be substantially higher. Harman has suggested the selectorate would be ‘fewer than 600,000. It will be over half a million’ — meaning there are tens of thousands of rogues still to be weeded out. Around 60,000 people are expected to be excluded once the process is complete. Either way, this means the party has a lot of checking still to do.

Following the meeting, Harman spoke to BBC News and assured Corbyn supporters that the infiltration operation is not designed to purge his supporters from the party:

‘If they don’t support the Labour Party’s aims and values, they don’t get a vote. And this is not about who they’re going to vote for. In undertaking these processes, we are completely impartial. The question is not which candidate you support, the question is: do you support the aims and values of the Labour Party.

‘So I want to absolutely assert that the party is being completely impartial as between the candidates but the part is not agnostic about the 2014 rules. The 2014 values say, if you are a supporter of another party you can not vote in this leadership election’.

Harman also said ‘the rules aren’t changing — they are as they are’ but said 'further consideration' was given to 'what information can be safely used to bear on the question of whether people are actually supporters of the Labour party’s aims and values' — possibly in reference to Caroline Flint’s idea of using canvass returns.

Team Burnham, who called for the meeting last week are pleased with how it went — a source says it was ‘productive, constructive and reassuring’.  But not everyone is entirely satisfied. Another source in one of the campaigns says it is still about 'waiting and seeing' as Labour HQ told campaigns staffers in the meeting they will take proposals to the party's Procedures Committee to enhance robustness and transparency in this contest.

Interestingly, Coffee House also understands that Corbyn’s representatives were rather unhappy at the suggestion that a breakdown of the result within the different types of voters should be published. The Burnham, Cooper and Kendall representatives were all united in agreeing that the information should be released. But aside from that, it appears there was a good atmosphere and progress was made.