More than a quarter of the people who applied to vote in Labour’s leadership election have already been ruled either ineligible or subject to further investigation, HuffPostUK can reveal.
About 40,000 of the 183,000 applicants for “registered supporter” status have automatically been deemed unsuitable, with a further 10,000 cases set to go before the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) Oversights Panel for consideration.
Most of those ruled out automatically are deemed ineligible because of their previous formal support for a rival political party candidate, their absence from the electoral register or because their payments bounced.
The party has a centralised list of individuals who are automatically blocked from membership, including those who have made racist, anti-semitic or sexist remarks.
Among the 10,000 who will be referred to the NEC panel, there are doubts about whether they comply with “the aims and values” of the Labour party.
The panel will spend the next few weeks working through the list, which may increase as more cases are uncovered.
With each “registered supporter” paying £25 for the right to vote in the contest, party coffers could still benefit from around upto £4 million in extra income. The party keeps the cash from those it deems unsuitable.
Those applying are told that they have to comply with requirements such as being on the electoral roll and supporting the party’s aims and values.
A further 388,000 ‘full’ party members who joined before January 2016 will also be allowed to vote in the leadership election. Another 70,000 or so trade union affiliates are expected to take part.
It’s unclear what impact the exclusion of so many registered supporters will have on the election itself.
Among the roughly 140,000 who are still allowed to take part, some sampling suggests that 90,000 of them are pro-Corbyn and 50,000 anti-Corbyn, HuffPost understands.
That would be a significant lead, but still mean the anti-Corbyn camp have narrowed the gap since 2015, when just 18,000 registered supporters backed either Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall.
Corbyn won a huge 88,000 votes from registered voters last year in his landslide victory.
Among full members, Corbyn polled less than the total of those who supported Burnham, Cooper or Kendall in 2015. Around 60% of trade union affiliates backed Corbyn, though their numbers are smaller and turnout is low.
Although the odds appear to be against them, particularly if rank and file members resent the “coup” tactics of Labour MPs, backers of Owen Smith say there are enough full members dissatisfied with Corbyn to edge the contest their way.
Some trade unions, such as the GMB, are balloting members for their views too this year.
The contest may come down to differential turnout in each of the sections, with almost all registered supporters expected to use their vote, a lower proportion among full members and the lowest among trade unionists.