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Labour MPs & allies lash out at Starmer’s reported plans to revive electoral college in party elections, locking out Corbynistas

Labour MPs & allies lash out at Starmer’s reported plans to revive electoral college in party elections, locking out Corbynistas
UK Labour’s leadership reportedly plans to scrap the current one-member-one-vote system for party elections and bring back the older electoral college vote. Critics called it an anti-democratic “backward step.”

Under the current system all Labour members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters, from rank members to members of the shadow cabinet, have exactly the same voting power in party leader elections. The one-member-one-vote (OMOV) system was introduced in 2014 by Ed Miliband, replacing a previous system of electoral college, which represented trade unions, MPs and local Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs).

Keir Starmer will reportedly propose a return to the previous system, ensuring that his eventual successor would not be someone like his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. The 2015 landslide victory of the left-wing populist politician came as a big surprise to the party establishment and set Labour on a lengthy path of soul-searching for its identity. Corbyn’s 2019 resignation and Starmer’s takeover the next year were a return to the more-centrist approach of Blairism.

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Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) is reportedly to review the proposed reversal on Friday, before the changes are submitted to the party conference next week. The proposal has already proved to be divisive, as many Labour MPs, a large number of them from the left flank of the party, publicly objected to it.

Corbyn himself called the would-be restoration of the electoral college “deeply undemocratic” and urged the party leadership to stop attacking the rights of its rank members and “take the fight to the Tories.”

Nadia Whittome rejected the idea that her vote should be worth thousands of votes of her Nottingham East constituents. Zarah Sultana, who represents Coventry South, branded the reported plan “a cowardly attack on democracy.” Jarrow’s Kate Osborne likewise criticised the proposal, saying she rejected an “hierarchy which places 1 above another.”

Some people on the side of trade unions were not thrilled about the reform either. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham described it as “unfair, undemocratic and a backwards step for our party” in an email to Labour MPs.

Labour Mayor of the North of Tyne Jamie Driscoll warned that if it comes into force, the party will be punished at the ballot box in the general elections.

The party adopted the electoral college in 1981, replacing an earlier system, under which MPs elected party leaders directly in a secret ballot. Under the current system, they have a degree of gatekeeping power, since nominees need to secure support from a certain percentage of the Parliamentary Labour Party to see their name on the ballot.

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Ironically, Corbyn made it through this screening process in 2015 because some of his fellow legislators sought to “broaden the debate” rather than wanted to see him as the next party leader. Ex-adviser to Tony Blair John McTernan called such MPs “morons,” a title that Margaret Beckett, the incumbent chair of the national executive committee, publicly accepted at the time.

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