The number of MP and MEP nominations a candidate needs to make the leadership ballot is set to be lowered by the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC).
The rule change is thought to make it easier for a left wing candidate to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, who was “lent” nominations from MPs backing other leadership hopefuls to make the ballot in 2015.
The NEC will vote today on lowering the threshold from the 15 per cent currently required and is expected to back a compromise position of 10 per cent, according to The Guardian. This is a middle ground option proposed to avoid the five per cent, suggested by some on the left of the party, dubbed the McDonnell amendment.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell tried to stand for the leadership in 2007 – when he was a backbencher – but was thwarted by a lack of nominations from parliamentary colleagues.
Today’s planned change would clear the way for a far wider contest in future. With backing from the NEC, the proposal is likely to be approved by the conference itself next week in Brighton.
There is also a possibility of adding new members to the NEC, representing trade unions and the party membership. As the membership stands, this would tip the balance on the ruling committee towards Corbyn’s interests.
Richard Angell, director of the centrist pressure group Progress, said: “When the current leadership is so safe at the top of the party, it is bizarre the focus of this year’s conference is divisive rule changes about whoever succeeds Corbyn, whenever that might be. Allowing nine or more candidates in the ballot paper threatens to make a joke of Labour and put us further from the voters.
“This package is all about marginalising Labour MPs in the Labour movement. Reducing the importance of MPs is the worst way of convincing the public they should elect more of them to bring about a future Labour government.
“Party members want more say for party members outside London and the South East, not simple more metropolitan voices on the NEC. Increased places are welcome but should be elected two places per twinned region so you can have gender balance and all regions heard. Anything short is a factional power grab,” he added.
A Momentum source told The Guardian: “[We] hope the NEC meeting will take account of this grassroots desire to make the party more democratic and give members the chance to debate the issues they care about at conference.”