Jeremy Corbyn today said charging people £25 to vote in the Labour leadership election was too high and local party meetings should not be cancelled.
The Labour leader, who is facing a challenge to his position from Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, also hopes the party’s ruling body would “see sense” on the decision to stop anyone who joined after January 12 voting in the contest.
The decision to curtail who can vote in the election was taken at meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee on Tuesday after it had been ruled that Corbyn would automatically be on the ballot paper.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, Corbyn – who had already left the room to celebrate being on the ballot when the leadership rules were decided – said: “There’s going to be some quite intense discussions over the next few days I expect and I hope our party officials and national executive will see sense on this and recognise that those people who have freely given their time and their money to join the Labour Party should be welcomed in and given the opportunity to take part in this crucial debate which ever way they decide to vote.
“I’m hoping there will be an understanding that it’s simply not very fair to say to people that joined the party in the last six months that ‘sorry your participation is no longer welcome because we’re having a leadership contest’.”
The NEC ruled that people can join as registered supporters to vote in the election, but instead of repeating last years £3 charge, they will now have to pay £25.
Corbyn is not happy with the ruling, and said: “If they can’t afford the £25 what do they do? It seems to me that £25 is quite high and not really reasonable.
“People stop me in the street to say ‘I would love to vote in this election but I can’t afford the £25.’”
One of the leadership contenders, Angela Eagle, has faced intimidation since declaring her candidacy.
On Tuesday a brick was thrown through her constituency office window in Wallasey, and on Friday a 44-year-old man was arrested after allegedly sending a death threat to the former Shadow Business Secretary.
Today, Corbyn questioned why the NEC had ordered all local party meetings had to be cancelled during the contest.
He said: “I haven’t stopped party meetings taking place and I actually think that’s a mistake. I think party meetings should take place. Intimidation of any sort by anybody is totally and absolutely wrong but to cancel meetings because there’s a perception that intimidation might take place, I think is a big mistake.
“The issues appear to be that where meetings have taken place far more people have attended than were expected and so there’s been issues about how people can get in the room.
“Well there’s a fairly simple answer to that: Get a bigger room.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, another leadership contender said he would be happy to serve in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet should the Islington North MP be reelected by members.
Owen Smith, who quit as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary last month in protest at Corbyn’s leadership, said: “I will serve and work with Jeremy if he wins because always we need to serve Labour.”