Revealed: Starmer’s new rule change package, with electoral college dropped

Sienna Rodgers
© Twitter/@Keir_Starmer
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Angela Rayner will deliver her big speech to Labour conference today. Helping to kick off the gathering in Brighton, the Shadow Future of Work Secretary will unveil further details of the party’s ‘New Deal for Workers’ policy. Labour would use ‘fair pay agreements’, which would be signed into law within the first 100 days in government, she will say, to ensure working people “get a fair share of the wealth they create”. Employers and employees will be brought together by the government to agree binding levels of minimum pay, terms and conditions that will benefit whole sectors, and under Labour’s plans this collective bargaining would start with adult social care. This adds to the party’s commitments to:

  • £10 minimum wage
  • Single status of ‘worker’ for all but “genuinely self-employed”
  • Establish right to flexible working for all from day one in job, alongside ‘right to switch off’
  • Ban zero-hours contracts
  • Increase statutory sick pay and extending to all workers, including self-employed and low-paid
  • End fire and rehire
  • Extend statutory parental leave, introduce a right to bereavement leave, strengthen protections for pregnant women and reform the parental leave system;
  • Update trade union legislation
  • Establish a single enforcement body to enforce rights, inspect workplaces and bring prosecutions and civil proceedings against bad employers
  • Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting

But Rayner’s allies are furious. She was the broadcast voice this morning, wanting to talk about these policy proposals, but most of her interviews were dominated by news of Keir Starmer’s party rule changes – or “being asked what the fuck is Keir doing”, as an ally put it. Rayner confirmed on BBC Radio 4 that the electoral college is not going to the meeting of Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) at 11am after all. Starmer’s spokesperson said the leader will be “putting a package of party reforms to the NEC that better connect us with working people and re-orient us toward the voters who can take us to power”.

LabourList has exclusively revealed the details of the new package. With the electoral college shelved, after two difficult meetings with trade unions and overnight negotiations that saw Starmer miss his first in-person NEC meeting last night (see details, including the GMB general secretary’s anger, in my write-up here), the new bundle of reforms that will be put to the NEC this morning are as follows:

  • Increasing MP nominations threshold from 10% to 25% in leadership elections (to prevent someone without a strong base in the parliamentary party from being elected again)
  • Scrap registered supporters (introduced under Ed Miliband, allowing ordinary Labour voters to have a say in who becomes leader)
  • Freeze date for new members in leadership elections
  • Possibly a review of levy payers/affiliated supporters
  • 6 + 6 conference motions (under Jeremy Corbyn, the number of policy areas debated was increased to 10 + 10; LabourList understands that the leadership was recently pushing for 4 + 4, so this is a compromise)
  • A Warwick-style process (this refers to how the manifesto, pre-2015, was thrashed out at a national policy forum, NPF, meeting one year before the general election, referred to as Warwick, rather than at Clause V meetings as in recent snap election years; a return to Warwick was a key demand of the unions)
  • 50/50 simple majority trigger ballots (under Corbyn, the trigger ballot threshold, which determines when a sitting MP faces full reselection, was changed to one third of either party branches or affiliate branches; this makes it easier for MPs to be automatically reselected)

Momentum is celebrating: “The electoral college is dead,” Mish Rahman, NEC member, said. “The central measure of Keir Starmer’s attack on democracy has comprehensively failed.” But the group wants to make sure “the other regressive rule changes concocted by the leadership share the same fate” – and here, it has a fight on its hands. Overnight negotiations will have shored up some support among UNISON, GMB and Usdaw for these changes. The NEC meeting begins at 11am. LabourList will be following every decision made, as well as everything on the conference floor.

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