Members should have a say on who makes the leadership ballot, McCluskey says


Labour’s record-high membership should be given a say on which leadership candidates get a place on the ballot paper, the head of Unite has said.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Britain’s largest trade union Unite, said: “The Labour party is now the largest political party in Europe and therefore the idea that it is only MPs that decide who goes on a ballot paper, I think is wrong.”

His major intervention comes just as TUC Congress begins in Brighton, where the whole trade union movement comes together to discuss key policies for the year ahead. McCluskey said that the party should be more “open, democratic” mirroring the language often used by Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

Speaking on Pienaar’s Politics on Radio 5 Live, the key ally of the Labour leader added: “I’d like to widen the franchise, so I’m in favour of having a debate about these things. What I am in favour of is Jeremy’s belief that we should have an open, democratic party. Unfortunately, under New Labour it was bureaucratic and stifled debate.”

The so-called McDonnell amendment, due to be debated at Labour’s conference in Brighton later this month, would lower the threshold for making the leadership ballot from the 15 per cent of MPs and MEPs currently required to just 5 per cent. Some have spoken of a 10 per cent level as a compromise measure.

However, with Corbyn’s position assured after June’s election gains, the idea has become less urgent for those who back it.

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