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26 August 2015

How will the purges change Jeremy Corbyn’s chances?

Labour have revealed the latest changes to their party's electorate - putting the total number of voters down from 600,000 to 553,954. What does it mean for Corbyn's leadership hopes?

By Stephen Bush

Labour have revised down their total electorate from 600,000 to 553,954 after their first round of processing. What’s going on? And crucially, what does it mean for the chances of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leadership frontrunner?

To take the last question first: not a whole lot, if the polls are right. Matt Singh, one of the few to predict the outcome of the last election, has reweighted the YouGov poll to take account of the changes – and Corbyn still wins on the first round, with around 55-56 per cent of the vote (down from 57 per cent).  Corbyn’s lead is sufficiently large – and crucially, uniform across all groups within the electorate – that the result is unlikely to change if the polls are right. 

Most of the “missing” voters have been kicked out voters are either not on the electoral register, those with membership fees left unpaid, and duplicate members – so, for example, if someone was sufficiently inspired by Jeremy Corbyn to register as a £3 supporter but is also a Unite member who has opted-in, one of those votes is gone. (It is unclear whether these members will be reimbursed their three quid, as union members are meant to be able to sign up for free.) Just 3,000 have been kicked out for not sharing the aims and values of the Labour party – as I’ve written before, mostly, it is opposition to the “aims” – ie, electing a Labour party candidate, even in Brighton Pavilion, not being a member of the National Health Action party or the Women’s Equality Party – that is leading to the expulsions.

The internal expectation for the total number of expulsions is that anything from 4,000 to just under 10,000 will be expelled. Crucially, although Yvette Cooper is the preferred candidate of most party staff – in part for political reasons, and partially because so many former staffers are working on her campaign – the near-universal expectation is that Corbyn will win, with most expecting him to triumph by more votes than the total number of exclusions and the overall number of lost voters. (Polls suggest Corbyn will win by more than 100,000 votes, well above the under 50,000 removed and the 3,000 that have been purged.) 

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