Sir Keir Starmer’s watered-down set of Labour reforms will be put to the party’s conference after he was forced to ditch a major shake-up of the leadership election process.
The Labour leader arrived in Brighton insisting the conference would be a chance to “set out our vision for the future”.
However, behind the scenes, opposition from the unions and Labour’s left to proposals which would have dramatically increased MPs’ influence in the election of a new leader have been a blow to Sir Keir.
A revised set of plans has now been agreed by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee and will be put to the conference.
‘Better position to win’
Sir Keir said: ” I’m very pleased these party reforms have got the backing of our NEC.
“These proposals put us in a better position to win the next general election and I hope constituency and trade union delegates will support them when they come to conference floor.”
Under the original proposal, the one member, one vote (OMOV) system would have been replaced with a return to the electoral college made up of the unions and affiliate organisations, MPs and party members – each with an equal share.
Those plans were abandoned, although the revised proposals still amount to a significant shake-up and will face opposition from the left.
The package includes requiring candidates for leadership elections to have the support of 20 per cent of MPs, up from the current ten per cent – Sir Keir had been understood to be pushing for 25 per cent.
Sir Keir also wants members to have been signed up for six months to be allowed to vote in a future leadership contest and the “registered supporters” scheme which allowed people to pay £25 to vote in the 2020 contest would be dropped.
He also wants to make it more difficult to deselect MPs by raising the threshold for triggering a selection contest, with 50 per cent of local branches in the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and affiliated union and socialist groups needing to back such a move.
The amount of policy motions considered at the party’s conference would also be reduced.
‘Vision for the future’
Sir Keir sought to put the row behind him as he arrived in Brighton for his first chance to address an in-person party conference as leader.
“We’re all really, really looking forward to this, our first chance to speak to the party in person and set out our vision for the future,” he said.
“We’re obviously in a crucial time for the country and this government is letting people down so badly, whether it is hammering working people on tax and Universal Credit, whether it is shortages of food and fuel.”
In a statement, left-wing campaign group Momentum vowed to fight against the fresh proposals.
Mish Rahman, a senior Momentum figure on Labour’s NEC said: “Changing the threshold like this will destroy the right of ordinary people to shape the future of the party.
“If this rule change passes, Labour will be well on its way to becoming the party of the Westminster elite.
“If the 20 per cent threshold applied to the 2020 leadership election it would have been a contest between Sir Keir Starmer QC and Sir Keir Starmer QC.”