Labour’s attempts to block new voters and make them feel unwelcome is lunacy.
The election of a new leader for the Labour Party has sparked a lot of interest, in large part due to new rules for doing so.
The process of electing a political candidate is known as a ‘primary election’. In the UK, such votes are usually reserved for registered party members and known as ‘closed primaries’. This is in contrast to equivalent elections in the United States where, typically, anyone on the electoral role can vote for a party candidate, whether they are members of that party or not. These are called ‘open primaries’. Back here in the UK, the Conservative party have dabbled with open primaries for selecting some of their local MPs, most notably (and successfully) with Sarah Woollaston, the popular GP and MP for Totnes.
Labour have adopted a form of open primary for their current leadership election. You don’t have to be a signed up member of the Labour Party to vote for their new leader, you just need to subscribe to their values and pay £3. Thousands have done so.
Most political parties in the 21st century would kill to have people joining their ranks in droves. The Green Party’s biggest coup before the 2015 General Election was the surprise announcement of their record membership figures and the Liberal Democrats have repeatedly proclaimed the number of new members that have joined since their recent electoral battering. But Labour’s response to this surge has been to cry foul and purge.