EXCL Labour deputy leader candidates slam party for hiking charge to access members’ data
Two of Labour's candidates for the deputy leadership have accused the party of hiking already-"exorbitant" fees to access vital campaign data on its members.
Rosena Allin-Khan and Ian Murray took aim at the party's top brass after what they argued was a fresh increase in the amount their campaigns are expected to hand over to get hold of canvassing information on people who can vote in the contest.
Under Labour Party rules, those running for the top job are entitled to access the details of all those who can vote in the contest so they can be canvassed.
Both Mr Murray and Dr Allin-Khan's campaigns have already hit out after being asked to fork out £5,000 each in "administration fees" to access lists of Labour members and registered supporters.
But PoliticsHome understands that a further cost for accessing the data had been floated in a conference call with party bosses on Friday - with both campaigns learning that VAT would now be added to the final bill.
It later emerged that that the party had ditched the extra £1,000 charge as a result of the complaints.
Ian Murray told this site: "This unfair charge should be abolished - not increased by another £1,000 at the 11th hour when we are supposed to get the data. It's an absolute scandal.
"The Labour Party should be ashamed of putting financial barriers like this in the way of people who want the opportunity to stand for party posts.
"It discriminates against grassroots member-backed campaigns like my campaign, and does not live up to our promise to be a party for the many, not the few.
"We haven't budgeted for this and right now we don't have the money. My campaign will be raising this directly with the party.”
That view was echoed by Dr Allin-Khan, who said: "It's unfair for the Labour Party to charge for member lists - candidates should be entitled to them without financial barriers. However, for that data to be effectively sold to candidates and VAT added - is deeply worrying.
"Selling member data for exorbitant fees, disadvantages campaigns with less financial resources. This is the kind of behaviour that would have discouraged someone like me, from a poor background, from getting involved in politics.
"Members don't want their data sold to candidates - they want a truly fair contest. Instead of hiking up administrative and handling fees like this, the Labour Party must provide all membership and supporter data immediately, to all candidates, so that we can present ourselves and our ideas to our members and supporters."
Both camps are meanwhile understood to be concerened about possible delays in handing over the data. With the deadline for affiliate and local party nominations set to pass on Friday, they fear that ballots could be sent to members before their respective campaigns have had a chance to canvass those taking part.
The Labour Party has been approached for comment. A senior Labour source has previously said the admin charge was decided by the party's ruling National Executive Council and had been set out at the start of the leadership contest.