Those Labour Purge Suspensions – the real numbers

Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership election yesterday with 62 per cent of the vote. Congratulations to him on a convincing win. On social media there has been a lot of chatter about how that his margin of victory would have been much larger if the deliberate purge of his supporters had not happened.

I’ve seen some very high figures bandied about, some vent suggesting well over 170,000 people were prevented from voting. This seems like a very high figure so I thought I’d dig around to see what numbers I could find. I am not going to get into the rights and wrongs of decisions of the NEC to suspend or expel people – I solely want to make an objective assessment of the scale of those prevented from voting.

First, I want to start by quoting my sources for this analysis. Given that it is Corbynites who are claiming there has been a massive purge I will quote data I have sourced by two prominent Corbyn supporters. One is NEC member Christine Shawcroft who has a long track record of being on the left of the party and she is a prominent Corbyn supporter. Using Christine as a source has the added benefit because as an NEC member she has access to data other people may not get and she has kindly published it on Facebook. The other source is MP Richard Burgon who is in the Shadow Cabinet and other prominent Corbyn supporter.

Now let’s look at the suspensions. For reasons of brevity when I refer to “suspensions” I actually mean “suspensions and expulsions.”

Suspension from the party because of complaints about abusive behaviour, membership of a proscribed organisation, support for another party etc. A final reason for suspension is (and I paraphrase many Corbynites) “suspension for some ridiculous reason to deliberately purge Corbyn supporters.”

According to a post on Richard Burgon’s Facebook page there were 654,006 ballot papers distributed.  And according to a post on Christine Shawcroft’s Facebook page 11,250 complaints were put in. Over half of them were discounted. The 11,250 complaints represents 1.7 per cent of the selectorate for this election.

As Christine herself notes “If I was trying to conduct a purge of Party members or supporters, I wouldn’t dismiss half the complaints.” In fact two out of every three complaints were dismissed.

She goes on to say “of all the complaints, 3,963 led to suspension and expulsion.”

The total number of suspensions and expulsions amounts to 0.6 per cent of the selectorate for this election.

If some of the reports of individual accounts of suspensions are correct then it certainly looks like the wrong decision was made and they are likely to be successfully appealed. But there can be no doubt many of them will be reasonable. You only have to look at the pro-Corbyn Labour Abuse and anti-Corbyn Gentler Politics twitter accounts to see the reports of abuse. Abusive behaviour is definitely happening.

There is no way determining if the suspensions were disproportionately aimed at Corbyn supporters or how many will be successfully appealed but we can say for sure they only amount to 0.6 per cent of the selectorate and not all of this 0.6 per cent were Corbyn supporters, and not all of them will be successfully appealed.

Given this evidence, the idea that there has been a systematic purge of the selectorate using suspensions that disproportionately impacted on the result is plain wrong. So, if after reading this blog, you are still promoting this idea you are wilfully  spreading disinformation and being divisive.

Although I’m not really a fan of pie charts (see here for why) I think I pie chart illustrates my point well (I will admit they do have their  very occasionally – usually when there are only two categories).

labour-purge-by-suspensions-pie-chart

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14 thoughts on “Those Labour Purge Suspensions – the real numbers

  1. In terms of suspensions, you’re not far wrong. However, the far easier and more effective tactic of just not sending ballots is shown in the figures. Unless you believe that 60,000 people who paid specifically (and expensively) for a vote just decided not to bother.

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    • The issue of missing ballots is an interesting question. I hope to return to that tomorrow. By the way where did you get the figure of 60,000 from and what precisely does it refer to?

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  2. I’ve found this article helpful but I’d like to contribute two points:
    1) With the last suspension ( to my knowledge) in my CLP taking place about four days ago, I think there are still issues about the accuracy of her statistics as it is clear to me that suspensions were taking place literally as polls in the leadership election were closing, and therefore NEC’s members who met on tuesday wouldn’t have been in a position to know the final number of people who have been suspended and who’s votes had been disallowed.
    2) it’s important to acknowledge the differences between expulsion and suspensions. At least one member I spoke to who was suspended in June, received a ballot paper and voted. The member who was suspended a few days ago has been told that his vote would be cancelled. In this way the experience of suspension can be very different for different people. With expulsions, some of them advising that they cannot me readmitted for five years, there is a very different experience. To some older people denied membership, some may not have much optimism about lasting the five years to re-apply. On top of this the level of transparency of how to challenge and the absence of any clear sense of when would be a an acceptable time scale in which to deal with things, isolates members and gives them no prospect of end in sight. A local applicant for membership who was advised in July that his appeal hearing would be imminent is still waiting for a date. Others refused membership in February are still waiting for contact. Others suspended in November 2015 have been called for an investigation. in October 2016. With the party currently sending out letters to those requesting subject access requests stating that they will not be able to supply data within the statutory deadline. The numbers excluded and suspended did not affect the leadership result but every single one represents a a personal loss, an embarrassment and the pain of an allegation that members are unable to defend to defend themselves about simply because often there is no clarity about the allegation. This human cost in addition to the administrative and regulatory nightmare of having to respond to so many subject access requests, investigations and hearings expends so much time energy and resources and put the party at risk. This is not a easy problem to fix but regardless it must be fixed in order to unify and move on.

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    • The issue of missing ballots is an interesting question. I hope to return to that tomorrow. By the way where did you get the figure of 60,000 from and what precisely does it refer to?

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    • Useful points about the true numbers but I’d guess the figure is not much higher than I quoted. If the figure was just under 4,000 last Tuesday and this was since the ballot opened, I’d feel quite confident it won’t have gone up by more than a few hundred. It’s unlikely the party could process that many suspensions in a few days.

      As for your other comments about the impact and fairness in not going to comment primarily because my post was focussed on assessing the overall numbers. But I also don’t feel qualified to comment because I don’t really know much about the process of what has gone on or the details of any suspensions.

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  3. I stopped reading social media comments about the purge because I think it was generating an atmosphere of panic and paranoia. The over 170k figure mentioned at the start of the blog post probably also includes those who were not allowed to vote due to the January cut off imposed by the NEC. However, this will also be further complicated by the take up of supporter status, many of whom a likely to have been those who joined the party after January 2016, who were over 18 and willing to pay the £25 supporter fee.

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  4. I was a new member who joined before the cut off date was invented, I am a member but was blocked from voting, you may need a slice of you cake for the likes of my self.

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    • Sorry also meant to say total votes cast by full members 285,176 with membership running over 500,000 Of course there will be those who did not vote but this still only represents 57% of the membership, I would think this should leave us thinking where are their votes?

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    • Right so in the Hight Ct case that was about new members being excluded the number used was 130,000, so that is approx the number blocked from voting by the retrospective cut off point, not suspended or purged but crucial blocked from voting and being ignored in this discussion by apologists for the cull.

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      • I take your point but we know that many of those people who were denied a vote because of the freeze date did get a vote as they signed up as registered supporters. If I get time I’m going to take a more at this in more detail.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You just have to look at the figures actually given out by the Labour Party to see that this pie chart is ignoring the 62,000 registered supporters who couldn’t vote. Having paid £25 to vote, it’s ridiculous to assume that most of them didn’t, so it is clear that they were not allowed to. Of the 138,000 pre-January members who didn’t vote, it is also ridiculous to assume that they all chose not to. I think it’s reasonable to estimate that 100,000 of them would have voted, so again I think it is clear that they were not allowed to. Here is the link to the Labour Party figures…
    http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/labour-party-leadership-election-2016

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  6. Your pie chart is based on the full electorate. I am one of the new members who came along after the cut off in January. I think it is fair to say that my/their voting rights were removed as the majority were counted to be supporters of JC, end of, it would never have become a court case, nor would the result have been appealed if this was not true. Rather naive to believe there could be any other reason. I would still like to know how this was justified. It plainly said I would get a vote on the website after all. The persons behind any attempt to seriously gerrymander are not considering the full electorate as you are. They, if they have a modicum of intelligence, would have targeted groups like the £25 payers and the members who joined directly after JC’s initial election on the strength of his leadership, but before January. Taken as a percentage of the most likely target groups for Corbyn support, I wonder what your pie chart would look like then? Only investigation and analysis will bring any wrongdoing to light. I, however, think that you are taking too broad a view. We should be looking at the distribution of the “unsent” votes and the expulsions and suspensions. Then, if there is a definite “target group” we will know what has been going on won’t we?

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  7. Pingback: Those Labour Purge Missing Ballot Papers – the real numbers | More Known Than Proven

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