POLITICS
26/09/2021 19:08 BST

Keir Starmer Wins Crunch Vote On Changing Labour Leadership Rules

Boost for Labour leader as he narrowly secures win over left of the party at conference.

JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

Keir Starmer has narrowly won the support of Labour’s conference for changes to how his successor as leader will be chosen, in a victory over the left-wing of the party.

A vote of party delegates in Brighton on Sunday approved an overhaul of the rules which mean candidates in future leadership elections will need the support of 20% of Labour MPs - up from the current 10% - to stand.

Starmer’s reforms were backed by 53.67% to 46.33%.

The move is seen by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn as designed to prevent another figure from the left of the party making it onto the ballot.

Labour MPs are seen as more centrist than the party membership at large.

Starmer had initially proposed an even more radical change to the rules which included a 25% threshold of support from MPs, but was forced to water down his proposals amid opposition from the left and the unions.

Under the rule changes, members will also now have to been signed up for six months to be allowed to vote in leadership contests.

The “registered supporters” scheme which allowed non-members to pay £25 to vote in the 2020 contest has also been axed. In 2015, when Corbyn won the leadership, people could pay just £3 to have a vote.

Another rule change, which while attracting less attention is arguably a bigger victory for moderates in the party, means it will now be much more difficult to deselect MPs by raising the threshold for triggering a selection contest.

Supporters of the change argue MPs should not have to constantly be worried their local parties will deselect them as the parliamentary candidate if they are at odds. Critics have said MPs should be more accountable to party members, not less.

Shabana Mahmood – the party’s national campaign coordinator – insisted the reforms would allow MPs to concentrate on fighting the Conservatives rather than answering internal matters.

Rejecting the suggestion the changes would mean the party leader would only ever be a white man, she said: “The parliamentary Labour party for the first time ever is over 50% women, and it’s the most diverse it has ever been when it comes to black, Asian and ethnic minority members of parliament.

“Look at my face, look at every female Member of Parliament for the Labour Party, look at every single black, Asian and ethnic minority Labour Member of Parliament.

“The idea that we stand quietly by and deliver you a future contest that is pale, male and stale – you’re having a laugh.”