Momentum, the network of activists that grew out of Jeremy Corbyn’s first leadership campaign, has launched a drive for open parliamentary selections to take place across the country, which would enable Labour members to oust their local sitting MP.
The campaign will encourage party members to initiate a full selection process in their local parties through the ‘trigger ballot’ mechanism. This is the tool that allows members to have a say over whether their MP faces a full selection contest or is automatically reselected as the Labour candidate for the constituency they already represent.
Following a rule change at Labour conference last year, the threshold has been lowered so that: “If either one third or more of party branches, or one third or more of affiliated branches, indicate that they wish a selection to take place, a selection shall proceed.” Sitting MPs must secure the support of more than two thirds of both party and affiliated branches in order to avoid the risk of deselection.
Pointing to its endorsement of already-selected parliamentary candidates such as Ali Milani and Faiza Shaheen, Momentum explains that it welcomes Labour’s initiation of an early reselection process because the party needs its “rising stars” to “look and sound very different” to the “privately educated millionaires” running for the Tory leadership.
“People feel deeply alienated by our broken political system, and campaigning for open selections across the country will help surface a new generation of young, BAME, working class leaders who will take on the political establishment and provide a genuine alternative,” the Momentum statement released today reads.
Corbynites are hoping to make Labour’s parliamentary party more representative of party supporters, but also to reshape the political outlook of MPs. The PLP is currently considered to be overwhelmingly Corbynsceptic, which makes deselecting sitting MPs an opportunity for the Labour left.
However, if a snap election is called in the autumn as a result of the next Prime Minister not being able to implement his Brexit plan, sitting MPs will likely be automatically reselected. In seats where no candidate has been selected already, the ruling body may impose candidates, as happened in 2017.
There has been some controversy over the process for pregnant Labour MPs. LabourList exclusively revealed that the national executive committee (NEC) addressed such concerns at its last meeting and decided that trigger ballots will only be held at least one year after a sitting MP’s return from maternity leave.