THE controversy over who is allowed to vote in Labour’s leadership contest has deepened after it emerged that the head of one of the biggest unions has been excluded.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said it was “extraordinary” to be told he did not share Labour’s values.
The row comes a day after Labour admitted that it had cut 56,000 names from the list of potential voters from 610,000 to 554,000 including around 3,000 so called infiltrators from other parties including the Tories, Greens and Socialist Workers Party.
It follows concerns that frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn, the hard left candidate, will win because of people entering the process who either want to destabilise Labour or see the party go to the radical left.
The PCS leader was a member of Labour until the late 1980s and has been regularly seen campaigning with Mr Corbyn during the campaign.
He registered to vote through his membership of another union, the GMB, and backed Mr Corbyn, only to be told by email that it would not count.
He said he had voted precisely because he shared the “aims and values” of Mr Corbyn - a phrase Labour is using to ban thousands of people from taking part in the election.
Mr Serwotka accepted that he had not been a member of any political party for 20 years, but decided to take part in the Labour leadership election because he agreed with Mr Corbyn’s policies.
“It is extraordinary to be told you cannot vote because you don’t share Labour’s values, when no-one (from the party) has spoken to me.
“I voted precisely because I share the aims and values of Jeremy Corbyn on anti-austerity, equality, a fair society and strong trade unions.
“Those are the messages I wanted to positively vote for. I have thought for some time we need a new approach to politics in Britain rather than the same old, same old, and that is what Jeremy Corbyn is offering.”
Mr Serwotka said he hoped people would not be deflected from any attempt to destabilise the Labour leadership election process, and if anything, should be more determined to vote.
The PCS, which represents civil servants, is not affiliated to Labour and a party spokesman would not be drawn on Mr Serwotka’s case, but said it was barring anyone who does not share its values and aims amid concerns about “infiltrators” in the contest.
Acting leader Harriet Harman has insisted there will be no doubt about the “integrity” of the Labour leadership contest following news that less than one per cent of new supporters - around 3,100 people - have been blocked as infiltrators.