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Tom Watson urges Labour left to ditch leadership rule changes

Tom Watson urges Labour left to ditch leadership rule changes
2 min read

Tom Watson has called on Jeremy Corbyn’s allies to abandon plans to change Labour’s rules for electing leaders.

The Evening Standard reported this week that left-wing supporters of Mr Corbyn would try to force through changes to allow activists to nominate a candidate for the Labour leadership without the need for MPs' approval.

Labour chairman Ian Lavery – one of Mr Corbyn’s allies in the Shadow Cabinet – said yesterday “everything has got to be on the table” in reviewing the rules of the party.

But Mr Watson urged activists not to press ahead with the changes at this year’s conference.  

“Before the election, there was a sense of urgency around some of the activists... to try to rush [rule changes] through,” he said in an interview with the Observer.

“Well, I think everyone knows now Jeremy’s position is completely secure as leader.”

The party's deputy leader, once a fierce critic of the party's left, insisted Mr Corbyn now enjoyed the support of “a highly enthused PLP around him to take him through the years ahead”.

He added that Labour’s focus should be on reclaiming traditional working-class voters while sustaining the support of young people who are widely attributed with helping the party exceed expectations at the election.

“What comes out of it is a potential new alliance for Labour,” he said.

“If we can bring [in] these young voters, enthuse them to stay with us and then give greater reassurance to our traditional working-class voters, some of whom left us on issues like policing and security, then I think we’ve got an election-winning alliance and I think it is an unbeatable one.”

Mr Lavery yesterday said Labour’s electoral alliance could be "too broad" and, hinting at potential changes to reselection rules, that MPs had “no divine right” to remain in their posts.

"We are a broad church. Some might argue, and I would be one of them, that we might be too broad a church,” he told the Huffington Post.

“Being an MP, I haven’t got the divine right to be an MP for Wansbeck. I’ve got to work very hard on behalf of every single member of that constituency."

He added: "Everything is going to be reviewed. That’s the point I am making.”

A spokesperson for Labour said any changes to the rules would have to be agreed at the party’s conference.

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