EXCL Row erupts again over plan to let Labour members elect local council leaders

Posted On: 
17th September 2018

A fresh Labour row is set to erupt after plans were resurrected to allow party members to elect local council leaders.

Newcastle councillor Nick Forbes, Labour leader on the Local Government Association, has attacked the plan.
PA Images

In a surprise move, Labour's ruling National Executive Committee will be asked to vote for the radical policy when they meet tomorrow.

The proposal is among a raft of potential rule changes to emerge from a review of the party's democratic structures by former MP and Jeremy Corbyn ally, Katy Clark.

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Under the plans, 'local government committees' made up of party members instead of Labour councillors would be given the power to draw up the party's manifesto for town hall elections.

Most controversially, party members would also be balloted to decide who is the Labour leader on the local council.

PoliticsHome has been told that a previous version of the plan was dropped by Labour general secretary Jennie Formby at the last NEC meeting a fortnight ago.

However, a new version of the plan has been included on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting.

If it is apporoved, it will then be put to Labour delegates at next week's party conference in Liverpool and would almost certainly become official policy.


Critics point out that the Local Government Act makes clear that only councillors can choose a council leader.

Nick Forbes, leader of the Labour group on the Local Government Association and a member of the NEC, slammed the proposals.

He told PoliticsHome: "The proposals for party members to elect the council leader is a zombie policy that refuses to die, despite warnings that it is unworkable, impractical and probably illegal.

"It would cause chaos in Labour-run councils around the country at a time when our focus should be on delivering for residents and campaigning for the party, rather than being obsessed by internal disputes.

"I will be arguing strongly at the NEC for this completely impractical proposal to be dropped in its entirely once and for all."

Labour has been approached for comment.