Kendall, Cooper and Burnham - pictured here with Jeremy Corbyn - have sent a joint letter to Labour HQ. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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Burnham, Cooper and Kendall issue a letter to Labour HQ raising concerns over the ballot

The three non-Corbyn campaigns have sent a joint letter alleging that unfair processing of affiliated supporters, drawn from trade unions, brings the integrity of the election into doubt.

In a remarkable intervention, the campaigns of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have issued a joint letter to Labour HQ, highlighting concerns over the integrity of the ballot.

Although the £3 scheme - where members of the public can participate in the election for just £3 - has attracted controversy, with MPs and activists concerned it has opened the process up to sabotage by the party's enemies, it is not this aspect of Labour's new "One Person, One Vote" electoral system that is causing concern.

Instead, it is the affiliated supporters drawn from trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party that the centrist campaigns believe are impeding a fair election.

Campaign sources say that the contact details of trade union members - some 90,000 strong - are being withheld from their campaigns.

Meanwhile, insiders report that the details of trade union members have been passed onto party headquarters with their telephone numbers scrubbed, preventing either the party or the candidates from contacting them.

But, they allege, the Jeremy Corbyn campaign has been given direct access to these members, handing them an advantage. But an aide to the Corbyn campaign insisted that no such advantage is being extended their way. "Each of the campaigns are sent the data of supporters and members at the same time. No campaign gets any part of the data ahead of the others."

The Cooper, Burnham and Kendall teams are also pushing for the party to tell all four campaigns when members have voted to prevent activists being bombarded with unnecessary communications.

Dear Iain

We are writing following the meeting with campaign teams yesterday morning.  There are two issues we wish to follow-up on.

Lists of members/registered supporters/affiliated supporters

We are concerned we will only receive accurate lists in around 10 day’s time, which hinders each campaign’s effort. It would appear unreasonable for an election to be taking place without the provision of a full list of voters. If you are sharing the information with ERS, then it is reasonable for the campaign teams to also be provided with it. It was mentioned in the meeting that the data could contain individuals who have not been fully validated, however, if ERS are able to use this data then I believe the campaign teams should also be able to use it, on the understanding that individuals may later be excluded. We believe it is essential that campaign teams have maximum ability to contact potential voters, especially as the affiliated supporters data is likely to be made available to candidates who have the respective union support. This would not be a level playing field for all candidates. We would ask that the Procedures Committee consider making this data available to campaign teams 48 hours before it is provided to the ERS. It is likely that people receiving their ballot details will vote within 48 hours of receiving them and so campaign teams will be hugely disadvantaged if they are not in receipt of the data until some 5 days later.

Lists of members still to vote

We also feel it would be reasonable to provide lists of members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters who have voted. This will help us focus our effort on voters who have yet to cast their ballots. It would also mean that we are not calling members who have already voted.

We understand the Procedures Committee is in the tomorrow and believe that these are important agenda items for discussion at that meeting. We would be grateful if you would ensure this email is tabled at the meeting, and would ask for a response afterwards.
Kind regards

Vernon Coaker (Yvette Cooper campaign)

Michael Dugher (Andy Burnham campaign)

Toby Perkins (Liz Kendall campaign)

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Photo: Getty
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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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