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Blow for Momentum as Jeremy Corbyn sides with unions to block 'open selection' of MPs

2 min read

Calls for Labour MPs to face "open selections" before every general election have been blocked by the party's ruling body.

In a major blow for grassroots campaign group Momentum, Jeremy Corbyn sided with the trade unions to support alternative reforms.

At the moment, sitting Labour MPs only face a reselection process if a majority of local branches call for one in a so-called "trigger ballot".

Momentum had proposed changes to the rules which would have seen MPs face an automatic reselection contest against rival candidates.

Opponents of the move said it was designed to make it easier to remove critics of the Labour leadership.

In a compromise agreed by last night's meeting of Labour's National Executive Committee - which includes Mr Corbyn and representatives from the major unions - the threshold for triggering a contest has been reduced from 50% to 33% of branches.

A party source said: "Corbyn has declared war on Momentum by siding with unions and failing to deliver open selections.

"But it will probably lead to at least a dozen MPs being removed."

Another source added: "The proposal agreed unanimously by the NEC reforms the existing re-selection process, giving members and trade union affiliates a greater say in who represents them, but doesn’t move to automatic open selections."

In a change to the rules governing Labour leadership contests, anyone seeking to get on the ballot will now require nominations from 10% of MPs, plus 5% of constituency Labour parties or 5% of trade unions or affiliate organisations.

At the moment, they only need nominations from 10% of MPs, although some left-wing activists had called for that to be reduced to 5%.

A Momentum source said: ‘The result of the NEC shows the power of grassroots campaigning. Thousands of members lobbied their NEC representatives, Momentum petitions gathered 50,000 signatures and while the members haven’t got everything they wanted, these proposals are a significant improvement on what was being discussed earlier in the week. 

"The changes in selections rules will give members far more say in who represents them and result in more open selections. And while the slight increase in the threshold is deeply disappointing, we managed to avert disaster and avoid a dramatic increase to the leadership threshold which would have stopped a socialist candidate getting on the ballot in a future leadership contest.

"Long-term Momentum will continue to campaign for full open selections and to abolish the MP veto over leadership candidates."

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