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Giving MPs More Power In Labour Leadership Elections Will 'De-Corbynise' The Party, Insiders Say

Giving MPs More Power In Labour Leadership Elections Will 'De-Corbynise' The Party, Insiders Say
3 min read

Labour leadership is pushing to replace the ‘one member one vote’ (OMOV) system currently used during Labour Party leadership elections.

Under a rule change that is expected to be put to Labour Conference next week, leadership elections would instead revert to the electoral college system of voting, which was abandoned in 2015 following a review into party reform conducted by Lord Collins.  

"Keir is showing immense courage in seeking such a fundamental change to the way Labour elects it's leaders," a Labour insider, supportive of Starmer's move, told PoliticsHome.

"The system brought in before 2015 had disastrous consequences for Labour and the country when Jeremy Corbyn was elected thanks to mass recruitment of new members and registered supporters. It has to go.

"The other key stakeholders in Labour – our union affiliates and our MPs – deserve a proper say in electing the leader, alongside our members. We must never have a leader again who is only supported by a tiny fringe of the PLP they have to work with."

The Labour leadership is proposing to reimplement the electoral college system of voting that "was first initiated by Tony Benn in 1981 and amended by John Smith in 1993".

Under the system, party members, affiliated organisations such as trade unions and MPs each receive on third of the vote. 

Conversley, under the current OMOV system all party members are entitled to a vote, and to secure a spot on the leadership ballot contestants only require nominations from 10% of Labour MPs, as well as from at least 5% CLPs or three affiliates.

Critics of OMOV argue the system dilutes too much power from internal party actors and paves the way for outsiders with fringe or hardline views to have a significant say in Labour affairs.

A senior Labour source supportive of the move replace OMOV, told PoliticsHome: "It's true. We are 'de-Corbynising' the party. We have to if we want to survive and this is just another step on that journey towards being seen as a credible party of government again.

"Some of the people that oppose reverting back to the electoral college system are the same people that played a huge part in making Labour unelectable at the last election. If we're serious about being in Government, we can't take any lectures for them on how to win."

Left-leaning Labour MPs, who have been highly supportive of OMOV, argue removing the system would be anti-democratic.In a tweet posted today, Kate Osborne MP said: “Going back to an electoral college would be exactly that, a backward step.

“OMOV is the democratic way to elect the leader, giving everyone an equal say regardless of who they are/what they do. Every member is of equal value and I reject a hierarchy which places one above another.”

Rachel Maskell MP issued a similar criticism of removing OMOV, stating on Twitter: “As a Labour MP, I should have no greater say in leadership elections than other UK Labour members.

“The members are ultimately the party and they should equally elect their leader. OMOV is the most democratic system. Let's respect our members, let's respect party democracy.”

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham has described the move to abandon OMOV as “deeply disappointing”.

In a letter addressed to colleagues, the General Secretary wrote: “Unite believes in democracy, and this proposal to reduce the entire membership to one third of the vote, while inflating the vote of Labour MPs to one third, is unfair, undemocratic and a backwards step for our Party.”

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