10 things you need to know about Ed Miliband’s party reforms

January 31, 2014 10:31 pm

Ed Miliband has confirmed – in an interview with the Guardian this evening – the details of his proposed party reform plans.

These reforms are a big deal, and are a significant change. The one thing that everyone I’ve spoken to this evening who has an insight into the negotiations – from both the party and the unions – is that these changes are a big deal. They’re easily the biggest change the party has undergone in twenty years, and many believe this is a bigger change than Clause IV. Indeed several people have said to me that “Blair couldn’t have done this”. Speaking of Blair, there’s been particular praise in several quarters for Blair’s successor as Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson – much of what he suggested would happen on LabourList yesterday has come to pass. I’d still like to see greater clarity and transparency over that members wanted for party reform in their submissions to the Collins Review, but at least we now know what is proposed.

There’s much to digest from what’s coming out, so her are the ten things you need to know about how the party will change if the reforms are accepted at the Special Conference on March 1st.

  1. There’s definitely an opt-in process for trade union members: As I wrote earlier today, trade union supporters of Labour will effectively be subject to a double opt-in process if they’re going to get a vote in the leadership election. They’ll be asked to confirm they want their union affiliation fees to help support Labour – and if they do, they’ll be invited to become Affiliate Members. If they choose to do both, they’ll get a leadership election vote. However, there will be a five year “transition period” for opt-in – but if there’s a leadership election before then, only affiliates who have opted-in will get a vote.
  2. OMOV is in: The electoral college is dead – there will be “One Member One Vote” for the leadership contest, open to current full members, and new Affiliated Members and Registered Supporters. Some Labour members might feel this dilutes their vote in the leadership election, but because the MPs section has been removed (see point 4) in reality most “full members” votes will count more proportionately than they did before.
  3. MPs (and MEPs) lose their bloc vote – but have a crucial role in shortlisting the candidates: Earlier today its seemed that a candidate in a future leadership election would have needed the backing of 25% of MPs to get on the ballot paper. Now its seems that candidates will need the backing of 20% of MPs. This may remove some potential candidates from the running, but in reality it means only candidates who have a base of support in the PLP will stand a chance of being party leader. As being Labour leader also involves leading the PLP, that seems a sensible compromise.
  4. There will be a London Primary: This has been one of the points of contention with some in the unions, but there will be a London Primary. It won’t be an “open” primary in which everyone in London can vote – but instead it’ll be a closed OMOV vote with Members, Affiliated Supporters and Registered Supporters all being given an equal vote in the contest. That means London Labour will be particularly keen to sign people up to these new forms of membership to get more Londoners in the Labour corner come primary time. The primary will be held post General Election – and will be completed by conference 2015.
  5. Selections remain for full members – but with spending limits and a donation cap: Many in the unions are keen for Affiliated Members to have a say in selections, but these reforms will keep selecting candidates for parliament and councils, standing for election and sending delegates to conference as delegates. However, there will now be a limit on what candidates can spend in pursuit of selection and a cap on donations to a selection campaign. The draft Collins report sets out some figures for that, but they aren’t set in stone and will need some work before special conference. Anything that cuts the cost of selections is welcomed – they’re too expensive – what’s needed is a process that includes, rather than excludes good candidates, regardless of background.
  6. There’s still a role for collectivism in the Labour Party: Many in the trade unions were concerned during this process that the “opt-in” method would mean a death knell for collectivism in the Labour Party – but collectivism lives on, as the unions and other affiliated organisations retain vote shares at conference and the NEC. However, after the five year period for transitioning to “opt-in” is over, the proportionate share of union votes at conference (within the 50% union vote) and on the NEC will be proportionate to the number of trade unionists from each union who have opted in.
  7. Labour won’t “unilaterally disarm” on party funding: A real concern – with only just over a year until election day, was that Labour would immediately lose financial support from the unions and be unable to compete with the Tory war chest. Instead, union donations look set to be lowered over the course of the five year transition period. The Tories will likely claim that these donations still give power to the unions, but Miliband is holding firm. He says he wants to cut donations for parties to a £5000 maximum – but he won’t “unilaterally disarm”. As long as the Tories are still getting support from millionaires, Labour won’t be penning themselves in on funding.
  8. Registered supporters will get a voice – and a vote – too: As well as the new affiliate members, there’s a new category of membership – registered supporters. Those who want to be part of the party but not full members will be able to take part in the leadership election – and work with their local party – as long as they pay a small fee to the party. That’s not dissimilar to the closed primary system used by the French Socialists to select Hollande as their Presidential candidate, and should see more people involved in the leadership election. Of course, that means leadership election voets for people who contribute far less than full members – but (point 6) full members still have more rights than these new members.
  9. All candidates will be able to contact all of the electorate: One complaint in previous leadership elections has been that candidates couldn’t contact all of those who could vote due to the rules in place for the affiliate section. Now, because the party will be sending out all ballot papers, and the only people who can vote will have a direct relationship with the party – every candidate will be able to contact all fo the possible voters in the OMOV leadership ballot. In addition, Affiliated Members and Registered Supporters will be linked into their local party.
  10. This won’t build a mass movement party – but it gives Labour a chance to do so: No reform of a party’s rules can deliver a mass membership party – that’s not how politics works ad it’s not how people work. But these changes should allow Labour to have a direct relationship with hundreds of thousands more people – and bring more people into the party than are currently involved. The Labour Party – and party politics in general – can feel pretty moribund at times. By lowering the barrier for entry and engagement, this provides an opportunity. But that’s all it is. Only if combined with a strong offer to potential supporters and members, and alongside the kind of community organising and engagement that Arnie Graf has been leading on, can these reforms have a profound impact on the party. And on our politics. This isn’t the end of the process. I’m afraid it’s only the start…
  • rekrab

    This wont make labour any more electable? when the dust settles on the next election 2015, people will just remember the labour party ripping itself apart over an issue that should have united them.

    Gone, unfair dismissal
    Gone 90 day’s consultation
    Gone TUPE as we know it
    Gone health and safety risk assessments
    Gone the right to negotiate changes as Laid out in Falkirk by Ineos.

    What’s gone will be gone and what’s done will be the doing of the labour party as the force and light of the people.

    • treborc1

      And what has labour gained the Tories will be unable to say that Unions are the parties pay masters well no because the Labour party will still need the Unions money until Miliband can get back in and demand that parties are paid for by the tax payers.

      Cameron will be ;laughing like hell.

      • rekrab

        Yes! Cameron will be laughing and the fact that the lords have closed down the European referendum will be another gifted goal for Cameron as he can now say that the tories will be the only party to give you a referendum if they are re-elected.

        • reformist lickspittle

          Both of you live in your utterly delusional little world.

          Its quite amusing, really.

          • rekrab

            I’ve voted labour all my life, I’ve campaigned, canvassed and all the rest, I believe I’ve a fair idea as to how the public react and what the labour voting public would like, I’m convinced nobody saw this coming in 2010 when Ed was elected, it smacks of a desperate act and makes Ed look very amateur indeed.

          • treborc1

            600,000 GMB members 43,000 bothered to vote.

            Nearly 10,000 voted for David Miliband and 18,000 for Ed MIliband but look at the vote out of 600,000 only 43,000 cared enough to bother.

          • treborc1

            Yes and he’s in power and your not.

          • reformist lickspittle

            Yes, and my point was that he’s rubbish at it.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Boring and repetitive- but amusing RL? I’m not so sure

          • rekrab

            Boring Bill? it may well be but what does all this have to do with all the real problems people are facing? shouldn’t labour be focusing on how they can make Britain a better place for the majority to live in rather than fight internal disputes?

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            It is.

          • rekrab

            I’ll tell you what Bill, It took 18 long years of repeating the repetitive message to finally get rid of the last tory government.

            The opposition messages that were foretold from May 1979 took until May 1997 to finally drop and make the public see sense and vote against the lousy rotten tories.

            By 1997 Bill all the media was focused on labour, you just knew that it was time for a change and you could have pinned a red rosette on a monkey come 1997 and it would have won a seat.

            Just like 1983, labour tore itself apart with internal squabbling as the tories tore the unions and workers apart, while we sat on the fence.

            Once again the opportunities have been there since 2010 and especially the three lost no growth years to have piled the pressure and swayed public opinion against the tories but just like the same old, the labour party was divided by internal disputes, over which Miliband should have been leader and what type of labour party it was going to be.

            Boring Bill, wait till you get to a decade of tory rule and with all your horrors coming true you still can’t convince the press and public to change.

            This reform at this time has been the most stupidest act I’ve ever have the misfortune to witness and you’ll be watching paint dry before this act shows any advance in generating the news and support you want..

            Wait till the special conference? the press will bounce this one all over the place, if the tories SPIN haven’t done it by next week. Cameron will tell Ed, he told him to go and change the relationship with the unions not to make it stronger, while the unions will be scratching their heads at such a negative move by Ed.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            ‘Once again the opportunities have been there since 2010 and especially the three lost no growth years to have piled the pressure and swayed public opinion against the tories’ ?????:

            The Sun have tweeted out tonight’s YouGov poll – topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 42%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%.

          • rekrab

            In fairness Bill, no self respecting socialist would quote a demographic stat from the Sun?

            I’ll give you a hand here! the two polls to look at are?
            1/Who is considered a better leader
            2/ Who is most trusted on the economy

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Of course YouGov carried out the polling.

  • Rory Macqueen

    Does nobody know what ‘block vote’ means, never mind how to spell it, any more?

  • MikeHomfray

    Yes. Essentially I’m fine with this – except the primary but I know we can’t afford to do them here in any case

  • Ben Cobley

    A cautious welcome from me: this seems to be taking steps in the right direction which could remove some of the sclerosis from Labour politics (and indeed union politics). I like the London Primary idea – this has real potential to actually excite a few people outside politics about politics. But it’s a good point at the end: “This isn’t the end of the process. I’m afraid it’s only the start.”

    I’m particularly interested in the party’s culture, which I think is stuck in some pretty bad places. I put in a short submission to the Collins Review for some reform of this – suggesting drawing up a new code of conduct for party representatives and officials, writing a new statement of values focused on behaviour, and creating a division to manage selections and elections on a properly impartial basis:

    http://afreeleftblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/on-labour-party-reform-my-submission-to.html

    • rekrab

      Ben, how many constituents are going to their labour surgeries and saying they want the labour party to re-organise?

      Almost four years into Ed M leadership and he calls for a re-organised programme? one year before a general election, what kind of message does that send out to the electorate? will they say? if they’re not organised now how can they run the country, total message of un-confidence.

      I can recall a debate on this form way back to 2010, when the subject was about trying to gain power for the sack of power and if the labour party tried to be the tory party then people will just vote for the real tory party, Tom Fairfax will recall that debate and confirm it was the most probable outcome supported by the majority of posters at that time.

      • Ben Cobley

        I don’t see how the general public would be the most knowledgeable about Labour Party processes and therefore inclined to opine on them. I would think that Labour members (and ex-members) would be better placed to have an opinion on these things. Where the public’s view is important is on their general attitude to Labour, and I don’t know about you but I don’t sense much enthusiasm and affection out there. For me it’s not just about policy but how we do things and how we behave – the culture of fixing being perhaps the most obvious problem.

        • rekrab

          At a time when people are feeling poorer, worried about if they’ll be able to keep up their mortgage repayments, worried about if they’ll keep their job, worried about if they can afford to buy food or electricity, worried because they cant get a home and so on, will they really be thinking about a re-organised programme?

          • reformist lickspittle

            For heaven’s sake, its not an either/or thing.

            A party that is more open and democratic – and hopefully bigger, too – will be better placed to connect with a public who are largely deeply cynical about politics at present.

          • rekrab

            So tell me how this will be a vote winner for labour?

          • reformist lickspittle

            It won’t, in itself. Nobody, myself included, claims otherwise.

            Your repeatedly posing this question just shows that you are missing the real point of these changes.

          • rekrab

            And the point of the changes are what?

            What real point? did Ed plan this change from the day he took the role? are you the oricale on what labour will do in government if elected because, seems to me you’ve swallowed a blue bill and entre the twilight zone of nonsense, people want to know about what labour can do to make things better, not some madcap reaction inspired by a few words from the tory PM.

          • treborc1

            Yes but if you listen to labour everything will be great under them, but they do not actually say how, after all the living wage would be paid in London the rest of us would have to hope our employers are good well most are not.

            So if your one of the eight million working in the public sector labour will be holding down your wages.

            So why vote for any of them.

    • Doug Smith

      “this has real potential to actually excite a few people outside politics about politics.”

      Excite? What will prompt excitement? Do you suppose Labour’s Westminster careerist elite are capable of producing a candidate/policies deserving of excitement?

      My goodness me! There’s more chance of a cow jumping over the moon.

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  • Syzygy

    25% or 20% is far too high a threshold. Essentially, it will mean that the choice of leadership candidate will be limited and coronations by the MPs much more likely. In 2010, the choice would have been between the Miliband brothers. That doesn’t look like more democracy in the LP to me.

    • RWP

      It will help avoid an situation like when the Tory membership elected IDS, who was their MPs third choice candidate and immediately lacked parliamentary support. It’s not good Labour having a leader popular with the grassroots with no authority at Westminster; that’s a recipe for a Tory majority.

      • reformist lickspittle

        Except that many might think the PLP needs reining in a bit anyway.

        It is well to the right of the party as a whole – lots of Blairites, quite a few of whom have had it in for Ed from the moment he was elected.

    • reformist lickspittle

      A fair point – probably the proposal I am least happy about.

  • RWP

    Although the detail can be a mind-numbing to some, I think they’ve got this broadly right.

    • Holly

      How broad?

  • driver56

    When we get elected in 2015 I would like to see a change in the whitehall administration. perhaps some could reapply for their jobs. but a mass clear out is needed. these people have had it too easy for too long.

    • http://batman-news.com Lee Denham

      If, it’s not certain with Ed Balls still doing the job he was doing in 2010. Just saying

  • Jingoistic

    I support one member one vote. Why bother being a party member if being a Registered supporter or an a Affiliate will get to vote. Looks like one member short.

    • reformist lickspittle

      They will get to vote in leadership elections only. To do anything else, you will have to take full membership.

      • Jingoistic

        What else do we get to vote on?

        • reformist lickspittle

          Parliamentary selections and NEC for a start?

          • rekrab

            Holy sh*te, your having a laugh. Parliamentary selection, in who’s favour?

            It matters not a jot because the crop of today’s politicians often turn out to be completely fake and misguided.

            In truth, Ed Miliband has been a pathetic leader.

          • reformist lickspittle

            I stated facts.

            You, as is usual, went on a formless incoherent rant.

          • rekrab

            Are those the facts that stopped a unite candidate from being selected in Falkirk?

            Incoherent rant? feck just follow the dear Dr eh, why don’t you form some of your own opinions and facts rather than having your arse wiped for you.

            You haven’t answered the question on the point of these changes? if the party is just going to follow the change maker Blair and merge with the liberals, why don’t you just ask for a new Blair or the old one.

          • reformist lickspittle

            Yes, because ALL selections are like Falkirk.

            That’s right, every single one.

            Please stop being so mindblowingly tedious.

          • rekrab

            What? stop slavering nonsense spittle and stop blowing your little blue trumpet.

            Again I ask you to enlighten me? what are these changes for?

          • treborc1

            It’s time for the Unions and labour to split, then both can build up membership both are seriously short of these.

            Then maybe one day the Unions can get around a table and state time to build another political party.

            The fact is the Unions have no issue with being short of membership because it not bothering the pay at at he top

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            You raise a good point.

            If it costs £3.80 to become an affiliated member, and so allowed to vote for the leadership only (perhaps every 7 years), against £38 a year to not only have a leadership vote, but also the NEC and CLP selections, what is there not to like? You can sign up when the leadership election is announced, then not renew the membership again in the next year.

            £3.80 for the chance to vote for someone normal to run the Labour Party, against £266 over 7 years for the chance to vote on some completely meaningless minor selections. It is most appealing. I don’t mind spending £3.80 every 7 years to vote for a potential Labour Leader. It seems a bargain.

            After all, it is not as though individual MPs or the NEC have enough importance and impact on national life to be worth spending £266 on of my own money.

          • reformist lickspittle

            A reasonable point, I suppose. But no internal democracy is without flaws – it means the party as a whole will have to be vigilant to stop that sort of thing happening. Fair enough.

          • rekrab

            And how will they do that?
            BTW, lick those slavers, Yuck!

          • Doug Smith

            “direct them to vote for someone like Diane Abbott.”

            This illustrates your political naivety. A very rich Tory man is much more likely to direct them to vote for someone like Ed Miliband.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            It depends upon the circumstances, I suppose for the hypothetical rich Tory. If the next election looks likely under any circumstance to be won by Labour, and so the choice would surely be the most reasonable and centrist. If the next election looks likely to be “hung” or lost by Labour, then the choice would naturally be someone completely unelectable by normal people.

            Unless you have already thought of that, but judge Ed Miliband to be worse than Diane Abbott, I think my conjecture is not completely wrong.

          • rekrab

            I thought that in part this was to do with the amount of money parties receive from sponsors? it now looks as though the candidate who can gain the most fees wins. Come on down the price it right LoL, I wonder If they’ll televise it?

  • treborc1

    STATE FUNDING.
    I may be wrong but reading this we all know the levy has been an issues for the labour party since New labour, they refused to agree the level of donations last time as the labour party would not agree to how much they get from the Unions.

    Now of course labour would jump at state funding and the Union money would not be an issues.

    New labour and the Tories can agree on the level of donations I believe it was £5.000 from single donors and the Tories stated that one payment from a Union would be classed as a single donation labour said no.

    But it would now be sorted since the Unions would not be giving millions unless everyone is going to opt in and I doubt that .

    This I think is the prelude to state funding.

    • clovis

      No, the Tories didn’t agree to the £5,000 cap – they insisted on £50,000. Should be £50, really.

  • Dougie

    Not so much One Man One Vote as One Man Two Votes. Any union member can affiliate through his union and become a party member through his constituency association. Reducing the influence of the unions on the Labour Party? I don’t think so.

    • ColinAdkins

      This may be true and obviously a fault which needs to be tackled. But just because union/Party members could potentially have two votes doesn’t give more power to the actual union unless of course they operate on such matters on the basis of democratic centralism. The union vote if cast will be cast as an individual rather than by the General Secretary on behalf of all affiliated members.

    • Alan Ji

      c”constituency association” is what Tories and LibDems have, and both allow membership to people who don’t live and aren’t registered to vote in the area.
      We have Constituency Labour Parties and membership must be where you live and are on the Register of Electors.

  • Jim Dodds

    The problem was never with unions, though imperfect, the problem was ever with British social structures and the monstrous disrespect shown to those whose legitimate rights are represented by nobody but trade unions. If you’re old enough you will remember references to ‘people in trade’. To this day many British manufacturers offer separate eating arrangements for different levels of staff. The sad thing is that this situation is so widely accepted as being not only normal but justified largely thanks to British, although often foreign owned, media. This pretentious disrespect does not apply in the Japanese owned Nissan factory, the now German owned Rolls Royce and Bentley or Indian owned Jaguar, Rover plants in all of which production soars. The real problem was ever with British ownership where pride was paramount and respect foreign to the social structure. Foreign owners have no problem with trade unions. The problem lies within ourselves. The answer is not to abandon trade unions to assuage the fears of those adhering to Victorian values. However, what would Mr. Miliband know about that? Blair and co. abandoned real values in the creation of New Labour which is anything but real.

  • Steve38

    The Labour party does not deserve the support of trade unions or union members. It has abandonded its founders and greates supporters. During all its years in power it did nothing to repeal anti-trade union laws. It does nothing to encourage or facilitate trade unionism. It follows the line of the right wind media that unions are a malign influence to be controlled and disempowered.

    If trade unions had any sense they would let the party dance on the pin head of reform and leave it to its own devices. Cut off funding, let the party wither away as it deserves to and start again with a political vehicle that properly represents the interests of working people.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Ah yes, the “let’s start a new, pure, unsullied party that can make our dreams come true without any interference from that nasty real world” chimera.

      People have been advocating this – and trying it – since at least the 1950s.

      How have they got on??

      • rekrab

        Ha, and how is new labour doing? with it’s troy one nation slogan and over 200,000 less members since 1997.

        Ed lambasted Len over the Falkirk selection yet no wrong doing has been found but the biggest employer in the region almost sacked over 400 people until they accepted their final offer, while Ed said nought, zilch, nothing in support of the Ineos workers, so what makes you think this is all about creating more trade union influence?

        • reformist lickspittle

          Party membership is well up on when Ed became leader.

          As you must be well aware.

          These proposals aim to increase it further.

          • rekrab

            So why did he sit on his back side and say nothing while a well known capitalist owning bully laid his bare knuckles into the Ineos workforce?

          • http://batman-news.com Lee Denham

            And he didn’t do anything about privatising Royal Mail except to send Mr Ummana round the studios saying the government were selling it too cheap. Nothing about the danger of job losses. So they’d have sold as well while pretending they wouldn’t

            Doubt you will ever be able to read this because most of my stuff never passes moderation though what I write isn’t to upset ppl

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Ha, and how is new labour doing?:

          The Sun have tweeted out tonight’s YouGov poll – topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 42%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%.

      • Steve38

        ‘How have they got on??’

        Fair point. But it still doesn’t make today’s Labour party worth trade union support. Perhaps the drift of the party away from its historical purpose is one of the contributing reasons for the long term slide in voter turn out. There isn’t a party worth voting for any more. Maybe Russell Brand is the one who has got it right. Vote ‘none of the above’.

        • rekrab

          I don’t think that labour does deserve the trade union support, they’ve moved the goal post so far to the right that they’ve now boxed themselves into the corner area of the selected few wealthy generals.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Like TUSC, The Green Party, No2EU, Respect, or The Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain ( Marxist-Leninist)?

      If this tactic/strategy is adopted all that would result would be a continuation of Tory rule into the distant future.

      You may not like it but the only party able to put an end to this mob in power at the moment is The Labour Party.

      • Steve38

        ‘ a continuation of Tory rule into the distant future.’

        But can you honestly say that today’s Labour party campaigning under a stolen Tory slogan would make a significant difference? It’s hard to put a fag paper between them these days.

        • ColinAdkins

          If Labour made no differance why are we opposing public expenditure cuts from levels established by the last Labour Government. Obviously most people who use public services or are on welfare thought it was a fag paper worth having.

  • Carolekins

    I always felt that this new approach was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to the Falkirk selection process, but it seems to have been tidied up. Every time the Tories utter the word ‘unions’ we should reply ‘millionaire donors’.

    • Trofim

      I understand the Tories are not alone in having millionare donors?

    • reformist lickspittle

      Somebody talking sense in this thread – disgraceful.

      Don’t you realise the truth – Ed is an evil man who eats trade unionists babies for breakfast, AND SO IS ANYBODY WHO SUPPORTS HIM!

      • rekrab

        I dunno about eating babies but he sure put the punches into the first TUC conference he attended after his leadership election.

  • Steve Stubbs

    Well 41 comments so far including the usual crop of invective and abuse.

    Only thing I object to is votes on the cheap. Associate members and supporters get a vote though paying less. How is this going to encourage full membership members?

  • Darrell

    I just took the survey and I found myself unable to say entirely yes or entirely no because some of these reforms I do support – moving to OMOV in leadership elections is a good thing – however, I am less convinced about primaries. What I would not like to see is these reforms forced through as part of a massive bloc like Refounding Labour was – the point of piecemeal consideration is that you get to keep the good while weeding out the less good through discussion, debate and argument and vote – If they are put in a bloc again delegates will be put in an agonising place where they may end up voting yes when they dont entirely agree and no when they dont entirely disagree – so lets have some common democratic sense with these reforms please.

    • reformist lickspittle

      I don’t particularly like primaries – but if we must have them, then the least bad thing to use them for is probably the London mayoralty.

      • rekrab

        And who will fund them?

        • reformist lickspittle

          Progress could, since they are so keen on them :)

          • rekrab

            I suppose they could and maybe the new selected banker?
            Question is would you be happy that the leader of the party is now selected by who ever puts up enough funds/paying members.

  • FMcGonigal

    All well and good apart from the 20% of MPs required to nominate a candidate for the Leadership. This means in practice 3 or 4 candidate at most. It’s almost as bad as the Tories’ system where MPs could effectively squeeze out a candidate popular with the grass roots.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      Is it wise for a party to have a leader popular with the “grass roots” party members? For all parties, that might produce a leader who is more extreme than most of the electorate, as most party activists can be.

      • TomFairfax

        IDS makes your point about having someone supported by grass roots and considered a liability by colleagues(though clearly not enough of them)

        However, W S Churchill disproves the point about mavericks. sometimes not only necessary, but seen to be so. But much as current politicians hoot about threats to the nation, and whistle about the so called terrorist threat, we are fortunate to live in times seen to be be so benign that the mavericks don’t get the time of day from their colleagues.

        In fact, where would Chile have been without such an arch maverick as Admiral Lord Cochrane. The man who effectively kicked out the Spanish in an afternoon of pushing his luck and the ensuing utter chaos.

        Having been brought up during the scary part of the cold war, and real terrorist activity as an ongoing reality, modern troubles seem so lame and those who who try to make out they are such big deals, lamer.

        The key thing is the economy, because the rest is currently not that important.

        • volcanopete

          The 20% threshold is likely to produce a 2-way fight and sometimes they do not heal.3 or more is better.If it has to be increased then 15% is more realistic.

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  • mikec

    Worth recalling that the bloc voting arrangement was introduced by James Mawdsley of the Cotton Spinners who was “an avowed Conservative,”(He stood as conservative candidate in the 1906 General election but was defeated by the Liberal Candidate Winston Churchill). The purpose was to curb the Emerging Labour Party’s influence..
    And by the way it is the way M.P’s vote in Parliament

    • ColinAdkins

      Historically correct Sir. The bloc vote only became a problem when it voted left. The Gang of Four (the SDP not the Maoists!) made no comment until the Unions started backing the Bennite programme. One of most notorious misuses was by Syd ‘the vote’ Weighall leader of the NUR who was right-winger.

  • mikec

    In my 40 years experience as an active trade unionist I found that most members were apathetic to polotics and many staunch Tories .When we had an ex Trade Union official as Labour prime Minister the Trades Unions stabbed him in the back letting in Margaret Thatcher who emasculated the movement.

  • Clootie

    You appear to have a different Labour party to the one in Scotland? Ours has collapsed as a left wing group.

  • Harry Barnes

    My comments on this item are rather long, so I have placed them on my own blog here – http://threescoreyearsandten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/three-days-to-save-labour-party-and-ten.html

  • ColinAdkins

    Better than I can imagine. The defeatist comments of those of the left / trade union background should be ignored. They should have confidence in their politics and the ability to persuade members of a more radical position. If they cannot do that what chance have they to persuade the broader electorate. The task for the left in the party is not to break the alliance which is the Labour Party but to shift the centre of its orientation to the left. I recall Miliband saying this in Marxism Today many aeons ago. It was Ralph though not a young Ed or David.
    The selection/election rules need to be tightened up e.g. when candidates can start canvassing support, support in kind (apparently Lucian Berger based herself in the home of the outgoing MP for that selection). Further how do we stop the Murdochs and Dacres of this world exercising undue influence i.e. they tried to annoint Davd M.

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  • ColinAdkins

    Public services primary role is to provide services. The jobs follow as a consequence. I guess the CWU has sold out by reaching a collective agreement with the new owners? Mr Ummuna could say no differen.

    • http://batman-news.com Lee Denham

      The CWU got very little publicity from the save the Royal Mail campaign and the leaflets were in some post offices but not all, but it’s a shame Mr Ummuna and all the other politicians don’t worry about us keeping our jobs as much as they worry bout keeping theirs

  • nhumphrey1969

    Giving away subscriptions, opt-in is madness. The unions can be tamed by opening democracy. Ending “Political Officer” nominations for MP selections. Let the ordinary members choose.
    Why is no-one tackling the real issue? 50% Union Block at Conference to Veto National Policy Forum “debated” policy.
    I would like to see more CLP involvement in NPF policies. Perhaps even an “online system”. As far as I can see, 186 dictators should not be setting policy for 240,000 members? My experience of only 1 NPF member, as a parliamentary selections candidate. has made me want to stand against him.
    (Procedural Complaints, LP and Selection Rules are just being ignorred – in favour of pre-chosen Progress candidates, who aren’t working-class and don’t work for a living. Unite and CLPs chosing midweek and daytime selections at short notice. We don’t all bag carry for politicians and work for our own fake NGOs – some of of have decades of work experience. And Parliament desparately needs engineers, more than women, but not shortlists).

    • nhumphrey1969

      As far as I can recall, Thatcher is still the only scientific / engineering PM. There’s too many Oxford PPE (Politics, Philosophy, and Economic with the Truth), and not enough candidates wearing PPE. Why do you thinks these massive projects go pear-shaped – those at the top don’t know what they’re doing.

      • nhumphrey1969

        And I include Unions in that gripe. Not many have worked their way up from the factory floor. You try some menial tasks and few % pension. How come the leaders have massive final salary schemes – because they vote themselves ahead of their members! After the co-op bank boss, I’m waiting for some “revelations” on union expenses…

  • Alan Ji

    Why should it be £50? Lots of Councillors pay more than that into Group funds.

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