Jeremy Corbyn is a 'disaster', says Stephen Hawking

World-renowned physicist calls for Labour Leader to step down 'for the sake of the party'

Stephen Hawking died in March at the age of 76
(Image credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation)

Jeremy Corbyn's 'digital democracy' launch marred by technical glitches

31 August

Jeremy Corbyn has put new technology at the forefront of his leadership campaign and Labour's return to power.

Launching the Digital Democracy Manifesto yesterday, the Labour leader pledged to "democratise the internet" and promised a "digital bill of rights" that would guarantee access to high-speed broadband for every British citizen.

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Corbyn said his leadership campaign would use new technology in a way that, as a model for the next general election, represents the party's "path to victory" in 2020.

However, the launch was marred with technical problems.

"To demonstrate, he broadcast his speech live online on his Facebook page," says the Daily Telegraph. "Unfortunately, viewers complained that the sound quality was terrible, that the picture kept breaking up, and that after a while the whole thing had gone down altogether."

The seven-point manifesto promised universal broadband rollout to be funded by a new National Investment Bank, the introduction of a "digital citizen passport" protecting individual internet rights and a greater stake in digital ownership for the public.

While it is "hard to argue" with a Universal Service Network, the idea "is not a new one", says the New Statesman. The plan strongly echoes the Conservatives' idea for a Universal Service Obligation "whereby everyone has a legal right to request download speeds of at least 10Mbps", the magazine says.

It adds that Corbyn's idea of a People's Charter of Digital Liberties was "swiped" from the Lib Dems, who have accused him of hypocrisy because Labour failed to oppose the investigatory powers bill, the so-called Snooper's Charter. The digital citizens' passport is also to be of concern to privacy campaigners, according to Ars Technica.

The biggest problem with Corbyn's digital push "is that he believes Labour is going to win the next election online", says Sebastian Payne in the Financial Times. While the internet is an important part of the British economy, "it is not necessarily where and how you gain power".

Jeremy Corbyn traingate row: Was Virgin Train video a stunt?

24 August

Jeremy Corbyn's team has insisted he was forced to sit on the floor of a Virgin train because it was so packed – despite claims by the rail company that it was a stunt.

The Labour leader was travelling from London King's Cross to Newcastle on the three-hour 11am train on 11 August when he was filmed criticising the state of the UK's railways.

Sitting on the floor, he said the lack of seats was a "problem that many passengers face every day".

However, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson yesterday tweeted a CCTV image of Corbyn walking past empty reserved and unreserved seats at 11.11am that day.

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Virgin Trains said seats were available despite the politician's claims that the train was "ram-packed".

"CCTV footage taken from the train on 11 August shows Mr Corbyn and his team walked past empty, unreserved seats in coach H before walking through the rest of the train to the far end, where his team sat on the floor and started filming," said the company.

It added that the filming was carried out 30 minutes into the journey and that 15 minutes later, the crew helped Corbyn and his aide find a seat.

A spokesman for the Labour leader said: "When Jeremy boarded the train, he was unable to find unreserved seats so he sat with other passengers in the corridor who were also unable to find a seat.

"Later in the journey, seats became available after a family were upgraded to first class and Jeremy and the team he was travelling with were offered the seats by a very helpful member of staff."

Virgin said: "We're a bit puzzled why Jeremy couldn't find unreserved seats when he boarded the train - they're right next to him, as the photo shows."

Labour leadership: New members denied a vote

12 August

Labour's ruling body, the National Executive Committee's (NEC), has won its appeal to overturn a High Court decision allowing new members to vote in the upcoming leadership election between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

On Monday, the High Court rejected the NEC's decision to ban members who had joined Labour after 12 January from voting unless they paid an additional £25 fee.

But the decision was overruled by the Court of Appeal today, meaning 130,000 new members will not be allowed to have their say in the leadership contest. An appeal has been ruled out by the court.

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The ruling is a blow to the Corbyn campaign.

"Privately both Corbyn and Smith believe most recent members are more supportive of the current leader than his challenger," says the BBC. It is "a measure of the mutual distrust between those who support and those who oppose Corbyn that controversial decisions were now settled in the courts, and not within the party," the broadcaster adds.

The initial case was brought by five new party members who said the ban was a breach of contract. Rev Edward Leir, one of the members, said their case "wasn't a spurious action, it's not been politically motivated. It's been about people holding on to their promises."

The appeal judges concluded that a member's entitlement to vote in a leadership election "is not a product of him or her simply being a member, but is the result of him or her being a member who satisfies the precise eligibility criteria defined by the NEC".

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Prior to the ruling, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and other Corbyn allies condemned the use of membership fees to block people from voting.

"When people joined they were told very clearly they would be able to vote in the leadership contest and to deny them that democratic right flies against all the traditions of our party," said McDonnell.

Despite the setback for Corbyn and his supporters, commentators believe he is still likely to win the race. "Corbyn inevitable victory now downgraded to minor landslide," says The Guardian's Dan Milmo.

The impact "may merely be the size of the victory that Jeremy Corbyn wins against Owen Smith", agreed Isobel Hardman in The Spectator. "But it does also make the Labour party more divided and the contest still more bitter."

Labour leadership: What High Court ruling means for Jeremy Corbyn

8 August

Five new members of the Labour Party have won a High Court battle to vote in the forthcoming leadership election, potentially giving Jeremy Corbyn a major boost.

Last month, the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) ruled that new members who had joined the party after 12 January could not vote in the ballot unless they paid an additional £25 to become a "registered supporter".

Five members funded by crowd-sourcing took legal action against the NEC and were today backed by the High Court.

The ruling is expected to allow 130,000 more members to take part in the election.

"There was no way of verifying the motivations of those who have signed up in the past six months but both leadership teams say overturning the ban is likely to be beneficial to Mr Corbyn," says the BBC.

The party has until tomorrow to decide whether to appeal, something shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who is running Corbyn's re-election campaign, has warned against.

"We are appalled by the possibility of an unnecessary and costly appeal," he said. "If it is taken forwards, the party will be using members' money to try to stop members from voting. This is unacceptable."

Mr Justice Hickinbottom said it was his "firm view" that Labour's rule book did not allow a six-month cut-off.

He also ordered Labour to pay £25 in damages to three of the defendants, "suggesting that the party may have to refund part of the £4.6m that it received for registered supporters signing up in a single week in July", says the Financial Times.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "It is right that the Labour Party seeks to defend vigorously decisions of the NEC in this matter and we will now study this judgement carefully.”

Pontypridd MP Owen Smith entered the leadership challenge after Labour MPs backed a motion of no confidence in Corbyn by 172-40.

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