Selections, conference, NPF and the leadership contest – all could change as a result of Miliband’s union speech

July 9, 2013 8:50 am

As well as what will be announce in today’s speech (which I covered in detail last night), its becoming clear that there will be far reaching implications for the party (and the unions) extending to a variety of the party’s different internal structures. In particular, the idea that affiliated trade unionists will have the same rights as ordinary party members suggests a fundamental shift across party organisation – as Rachel Sylvester astutely alludes to in The Times(£) today.

The party won’t really want to get into this as there’s already quite enough for people to digest today – but the review which will be carried out in the coming months into how Ed’s plans will be implemented are also likely to consider the following:

Conference – currently trade unions have 50% of the votes at party conference. If all union affiliates have the same rights as party members, does this change? Will there be a shift to One Member One Vote (OMOV) at conference, with trade unionists voting alongside other party member delegates?

National Policy Forum – the party’s much maligned policy body currently contains trade union representatives. Does Miliband want to change that? If so, how? OMOV again?

Selections – if all trade unionists will have the same rights as party members, will all affiliated trade unionists be able to vote in their local constituency selections? (other than those where primaries might take place).

Leadership contest – This is the big one. If all trade unionists who are affiliated to the party are considered to be ordinary members, does this mean the abolition of the three-part electoral college currently used to select Labour leaders? And if so, does this mean the abolition of the MPs section too – and straight OMOV for leadership elections in the party, with members, trade unionists and MPs voting side by side in the same section?

If all of these changes flow from today’s speech, then comparisons with Blair and Clause IV will be wide of the mark – this will be far, far bigger than that.

All of these questions and more will need to be answered sooner rather than later – don’t be surprised if enterprising journalists begin to ask some of them today…

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