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Miliband “looks at reducing power of union leaders in Labour affairs”
Open selection primaries, direct access to trade union levy payers by the party, and caps on spending by candidates seeking Labour nominations. These are among the changes Ed Miliband is considering in an attempt to mend, rather than end, the union-party link following alleged malpractice by the Unite union. Miliband will be canvassing party opinion before a speech this week setting out how the relationship can be reformed following alleged abuse of party rules by Unite supporters in Falkirk. The row led to the suspension of Unite’s favoured candidate for Falkirk, Karie Murphy, and the resignation of MP Tom Watson as the party’s general election co-ordinator. Miliband’s advisers said he favoured a cap on all spending in Labour contests for parliamentary selections, possibly including European elections. At present candidates for parliamentary seats cannot issue more than three leaflets, but there is no limit on spending by the candidate or third parties. The Labour leader is also to rewrite a code of conduct for candidates. The purpose of the reforms would be to strengthen the relationship between the party and trade unionists who pay a political levy, and to leave less power in the hands of union leaders. Advisers stressed that the package of changes was not intended to break the link between the unions and the party or to set in train such a process. – Guardian
Tories plan “wholesale” changes to human rights laws – and leave the ECHR
Chris Grayling, who as the Justice secretary and Lord Chancellor is the Cabinet minister in charge of the human rights policy, also suggested that the Tories would advocate wholesale withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr Grayling was speaking hours after radical preacher Abu Qatada was extradited to Jordan, ending a decade long legal battle which had been built on human rights laws. The terrorism suspect has landed in Jordan after his plane left at about 2.45am on Sunday morning, following a legal battle that cost more than £1.7 million. The case prompted calls for reforms to human rights laws to make it easier to eject foreign criminals from the country. Pressed on BBC1’s Sunday Politics, Mr Grayling said: “A future Conservative Government with a majority will make wholesale changes to human rights laws.” – Telegraph
Cooper calls for tougher scrutiny of security services
Labour is to call for much tougher oversight and scrutiny of the intelligence and security services to restore public confidence in their work and operations after the revelations about the US internet snooping programme, Prism. The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, will also call for much tougher independent oversight of the use of undercover police officers following the Guardian’s disclosure of covert surveillance operations targeting Stephen Lawrence’s family and the infiltration of protest groups. Cooper says the scrutiny role of the intelligence and security committee (ISC), made up of senior politicians, and the oversight role of the intelligence and surveillance commissioners need to be strengthened. Too much of the current oversight of intelligence agencies including MI5 and MI6 is unsatisfactory, paper-based and fails to provide any assurance to parliament and the public that there will be a rigorous investigation when things go wrong, Cooper will say in a major speech to the Demos thinktank on the balance between liberty and security on Monday. She will say that the ISC is carrying out important inquiries into the Prism allegations and into the actions of the intelligence agencies in relation to the suspects in the Woolwich killing of Drummer Lee Rigby. – Guardian