Keir Starmer drops key Labour rule change after furious backlash

A return to the electoral college for leadership elections is off the table but Starmer will push a new package of reforms likely to rile Left-wingers

Labour leader Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer has abandoned a key Labour rule change after a furious backlash from trade unions – but will press ahead with a new set of reforms likely to anger Left-wing members.

The Labour leader had wanted to ditch the one-member-one-vote system for leadership elections and shift the party back to the electoral college, which saw the vote for new leaders split between unions, grassroots members and MPs.

But Left-wing members branded it undemocratic and he was forced to U-turn after standoff with unions late on Friday.

Following talks late into the evening, however, Starmer has agreed a new package of reforms, which the party’s ruling National Executive Committee will vote on at 11am.

They include a higher nomination bar to become a leadership candidate to 25% of MPs (around 50 MPs on current numbers).

The leader also wants to ditch the registered supporters scheme, which allows people who pay a small fee and sign a declaration of support able to vote in leadership elections.

It is understood he will stick with his proposal to raise the bar for which MPs can face a deselection threat. Currently, if either a third of members or a third of affiliates want to block their MPs’ candidacy at the next general election, a race can be triggered.

Starmer wants to raise the bar for a selection challenge to half of both members and trade unions/affiliates.

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He will also attempt to push through his bid to cut the number of conference motions debated at the party’s annual gathering each year.

The new set of reforms are still likely to be highly controversial with the Left. If passed by the NEC, they will put be put to conference delegates who are meeting in Brighton from today until Wednesday.

It has been a difficult start to the Leader’s first in-person conference since he was elected Corbyn’s successor.

Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, who is said to have been sceptical about returning the party to the electoral college system, is due to speak at 4pm.

This afternoon delegates will vote on whether to confirm Starmer’s appointment of David Evans as general secretary, which may be a flashpoint with the Left following a programme of cuts.


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