Starmer has put forward proposals to scrap Labour's one-member-one-vote approach to party leadership elections, where every party member’s vote had equal value, in favour of an electoral college, in which MPs would have greater say.
Keir Starmer is facing a growing backlash among Labour members, MPs and trade unions over plans to reform the way the party leader is elected.
Starmer has put forward proposals to scrap Labour’s one-member-one-vote approach to party leadership elections, where every party member’s vote had equal value, in favour of an electoral college, in which MPs would have greater say.
Under the system, plans for which will be heard at a meeting on Friday evening, before the change is put to the party’s annual conference next week, the vote for leader would be split one third each between members, affiliated organisations such as trade unions and MPs.
Starmer said: “Our rules as they are right now, focus us inwards to spend too much time talking to and about ourselves and they weaken the link with our unions. These are two things that have got to change if we are serious about winning the next election.”
In comments made later today, Starmer said: “These rules won’t be presented on a take it or leave it basis. I am prepared to take suggestions and ideas and have a conversation and to try and build consensus. But the principles are important to me.
“I hope TULO will support me, I believe these changes are good for their members and they strengthen our link. I know that this is difficult – change always is – but I think these changes are vital for our party’s future.”
Unite leader Sharon Graham has already urged Labour MPs to speak out against a return to an electoral college for leadership elections.
She said: “Unite believes in democracy and this move to reduce the entire membership to one third of the vote while inflating the votes of MPs to one third is unfair, undemocratic and a backwards step for our party.”
The TSSA’s general secretary, Manuel Cortes, called the proposed changes “gerrymandering”.
He said: “Our union will have no hesitation in voting against this gerrymandering if this proposal makes it anywhere near conference floor.”
A number of Labour MPs have also spoken out against the plans.
Rachael Maskell MP tweeted: “As a Labour MP, I should have no greater say in leadership elections than other @UKLabour members. The members are ultimately the Party and they should equally elect their leader. OMOV is the most democratic system. Let’s respect our members, let’s respect Party democracy.”
Richard Burgon MP slammed the proposed changes as ‘anti-democratic’. He said: “There’s reports the Labour Leadership wants to go back in time to the old days when the vote of each MP in an election for Labour Leader was worth the votes of thousands of members.
“If true, it would be to treat members with contempt and must be rejected as anti-democratic.”
Zarah Sultana MP added: “Any attempt by the Labour leadership to return to an electoral college for leadership elections would be a cowardly attack on democracy.
“It would radically reduce members’ say and hand wildly disproportionate power to MPs in Westminster.
“The idea that my vote should hold the same weight as those of thousands of members simply because I’m an MP is elitist nonsense.
“Teachers, nurses, community workers, students and the 100,000s of ordinary people who make up our party deserve the same say in its future as MPs.”
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP asked: “How can we call out elitism and undemocratic behaviour whilst denying members an equal say in who gets to lead our party?”
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