TORY MP for East Worthing and Shoreham Tim Loughton has signed up as a supporter of the Labour party (Wednesday, August 5).
His support is not a shock defection, however – the MP says he was highlighting how ‘ridiculously easy’ it was to bypass Labour’s scrutiny process.
Anyone wishing to vote for Ed Miliband’s replacement can pay £3 by next Wednesday to become a registered party supporter – a policy which is feared could be open to abuse.
Mr Loughton said: “I wanted to show that it is ridiculously easy for anyone to join the Labour Party and immediately get to vote in an election for the leader of that party.
“I applied using my Parliamentary email address so it was quite clear who I was and made it quite clear that my interests were far from those of the Labour Party yet received a welcome to Labour response soon after.
“So much for their scrutiny. Whoever becomes the next leader of the Labour Party needs to be genuinely elected by members and supporters of the Labour Party just as we do in the Conservative Party and this is quite clearly not working and needs to be sorted urgently’
Following the hijacking concerns, stand-in Labour leader Harriet Harman has asked Labour MPs to vet those signing up to ensure they are not ‘troublemakers’.
Labour have reacted to the news by stating that they have a rigorous process to safeguard voting.
Jim Deen, who stood for Labour in Worthing West in May, said: “We are very happy to have Tim’s £3, which is of course non-refundable. It seems like a bit of a silly stunt to me.
“Supporters are all being vetted and obviously Tim got picked up by the vetting process, which is being done by head office and local party branches as well.”
The winner of the leadership race, between Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, and Jeremy Corbyn, will be announced on September 12.
Starting the contest as a rank outsider, left-wing Mr Corbyn is now being tipped by many as the favourite.
In stating his reason for registering his support, Mr Loughton said he had written to ‘vote Corbyn to consign the Labour Party to oblivion’.
He added he would not have voted out of principle but was only blocked from taking part eight days after signing up.
Find out which candidate local Labour branches are backing here