03/08/2011 10:36 BST | Updated 03/10/2011 06:12 BST

Ed Miliband 'Plans To Curb Trade Union Powers In The Labour Party'

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Ed Miliband reportedly plans to curb the power trade unions have over the Labour Party.

Mr Miliband, who was only elected Labour leader last September thanks to union backing, hopes to cut their power in a bid to boost democracy within the party, according to the Guardian.

He wants to reduce unions' voting power at Labour conferences to below 50% and peel away their stranglehold over leadership elections.

The newspaper quoted a source involved in talks debating the move as saying: "We cannot go on with a system in which unions have 50% of the vote at conference, and just three general secretaries of three unions control four-fifths of that union vote. Currently, the union leaders are playing hard ball but they need to wake up.

"Ed has said he wants to do this through consensus, but he is not going to give the unions a veto about change. We are not going to concede."

Since beating his brother David to lead the party 10 months ago, Mr Miliband has faced repeated criticism from Conservatives over Labour's financial reliance on the unions.

But unions are likely to fiercely resist the move, which will be unveiled at next month's annual party conference in Liverpool and is part of the Refounding Labour Project led by shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain.

A Labour spokeswoman said: "Ed is very keen to look at ways of opening up the party and making it more public facing. Lots of options are being looked at and discussed, but no decisions have been made."

Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi questioned Mr Miliband's commitment to cutting unions' power, saying: "Ed Miliband was elected off the back of union votes, gets 90% of his funding from the unions and his party has just elected the unions' candidate for general secretary.

"If he was serious about reform he'd wean his party off union cash.While Ed Miliband postures over party conference votes, he remains firmly in the pockets of the unions."