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12 August 2015

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.

By Stephen Bush

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.

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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.”

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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.<span style="font-size:10.0pt;

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.<span style="font-size:10.0pt;

We understand the Procedures Committee is in the <span style="font-size:10.0pt;
<span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Georgia","serif";
<span style="font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Georgia","serif";color:#252324″>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.

<span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Georgia","serif";
color:#252324″>Kind regards

<span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Georgia","serif";
color:#252324″>Vernon Coaker (Yvette Cooper campaign)

<span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Georgia","serif";
color:#252324″>Michael Dugher (Andy Burnham campaign)

<span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Georgia","serif";
color:#252324″>Toby Perkins (Liz Kendall campaign)