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Labour party conference: the dispute around rule changes explained in brief

5 4 18
27.09.2021

The Labour party has voted to amend the rules governing how it elects leaders at its 2021 party conference. This was a marker successfully laid down by current leader Keir Starmer – but one that only came after a battle with the Labour left.

Disputes over the rule change show that friction continues within the party. The internal debates dominated the headlines when Labour should have been showcasing its policies.

At conference, Starmer presented a package of reforms, the most significant of which is that anyone wanting to stand for the leadership must first win the backing of 20% of Labour members of parliament – rather than the current 10%. This ensures that any future leader has the support of the Parliamentary Labour Party, after several difficult years between MPs and the leadership.

Starmer had originally attempted to turn back the clock and reintroduce an electoral college – a system that had operated prior to 2014. This split into thirds the proportion of votes cast at leadership elections between Labour MPs, local members, and the trade unions. But when the proposals appeared likely to be defeated, Starmer’s supporters pushed for the 20% threshold to act as a gatekeeper for future leadership elections.

These reforms passed with 53.7% in favour. Starmer commented that the changes were “a crucial step forward for the party.”

Starmer’s changes were roundly........

© The Conversation


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