POLL: Should comedian Mark Steel be allowed a Labour vote?

It is rare indeed that Croydon makes it on to the front page of a national newspaper. But The Independent has today splashed a picture story of how its columnist, Mark Steel, has been rejected by the Labour Party from signing up as a supporter in order to take part in the leadership election.

Mark Steel's coming to perform in Croydon

Mark Steel: rejected by Steve Reed

Yes, that’s the Labour Party rejecting an application from someone who describes himself as a socialist, someone who campaigned for the Labour Party at the General Election in May, but who has avoided membership of the party for more than a decade after its then leadership took the country into an illegal war in Iraq.

Steel announced his rejection in a tweet yesterday afternoon: “Well – an email from Labour says my application has been rejected as I ‘don’t support their values’. Maybe I was meant to invade Iraq.”

In today’s Independent, Steel said, “The cheek of it. Is Tony Blair allowed to vote? He invaded Iraq on a completely bogus set of principles. Is that Labour values?

“I applied as a supporter about three weeks ago. Then I started getting all the emails that people get, from Yvette Cooper and people like that, thanking me. Then I just suddenly get this, and there’s nothing that I can do about it.”

He won’t get his £3 fee refunded, either.

Mark Steel, second left, out campaigning for Labour in May

Mark Steel, second left, out campaigning for Labour in May

Since May, 100,000 have joined Labour as full members, 190,000 have signed up through their trade union, and a further 120,000 have paid £3 to become registered supporters.

Labour has been overwhelmed with the numbers of people signing up as supporters or new members, as it is thought that many have been attracted back to the party because of the campaign by veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn.

The new “open primary system” was introduced in an attempt to dilute the influence of the unions, who no longer have a bloc vote. But it appears to have back-fired, to the horror of the party’s right with many, including the three other leadership contenders, complaining vocally about the voting system.

In the past, Steel has been a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, and in May he dared to sign an open letter supporting the candidature in the Brighton Pavilion constituency of the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, who has been widely regarded as an excellent MP since entering the House of Commons in 2010.

Steel is among 1,200 people who have been rejected so far by Labour, including some more obviously malicious “entryists”, such as Tory Croydon councillor Jason Cummings, as well as other figures of the left, such as film director Ken Loach.

The comedian, who is performing at the Edinburgh Festival this week, touched on the “entryism” issue in his Independent column last week: “It’s outsiders that have caused it,” Steel wrote. “The only explanation for the madness that’s taken over the Labour Party, according to MPs such as John Mann, is people from outside are joining Labour, so the leadership election should be cancelled.

“Presumably John Mann would change the rules, so no one was allowed to join the Labour Party unless they were already a member. That should stop these scheming non-members from trying to infiltrate the party through the trick of becoming members.

“Then Mann should be put in charge of other organisations to keep out troublemakers. If you apply to join a snooker club, he could be there to ask ‘are you already a member of this snooker club?’ If you said you weren’t – which is why you’d like to join – he’d say, ‘Get out. I know your game pal, you want to turn us into a canoeing club.’ That way it would stay pure and wholesome.”



Palace fan Steel is understood to live in Croydon North, so any objection to his signing up under the party’s new system to be a “Labour supporter” and get to vote for the next leader, deputy leader and London mayoral candidate, is likely to have come from the offices of Progress MP Steve Reed OBE.

Reed’s state-funded Parliamentary assistant, Ross Haynes, has stated publicly in the past week that he has reported nine “hard left” applicants to party headquarters.

Progress describes itself as “Labour’s new mainstream”, and says that it “aims to promote a radical and progressive politics. Founded in 1996, we are an independent organisation of Labour party members.

Reed is vice-chair of this “party-within-the-party”, which has recently been actively recruiting people to sign-up as new members.

When not conducting private pogroms over which Labour Party membership applications he approves or disapproves, Reed is publicly supporting his fellow Progress vice-chair, Liz Kendall, and another Blairite, Dame Tessa Jowell, for leader and Labour mayoral candidate.

Here, Inside Croydon is conducting its own open primary. This is a truly open primary. To vote, you don’t need to be a member of the Labour Party, nor even a “supporter”. And you don’t need to pay us £3, either. Just opt for whether you think Mark Steel should be welcomed back to the Labour snooker club or not.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2016 London elections, Comedy, Croydon North, Steve Reed MP and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to POLL: Should comedian Mark Steel be allowed a Labour vote?

  1. farmersboy says:

    In years to come we’ll be pestered by cold callers and TV ads ‘were you mis-sold labour party membership? ‘

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