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.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.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.
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.
- Inside Croydon Events: for dates and links to what’s happening in and around Croydon, updated daily, click here
Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014.
- Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 729,297 page views in 2014.
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com