Labour party members and trade unions are set to be handed new powers in the reselection of sitting MPs under a compromise plan aimed at ‘opening up’ contests for Westminster seats, HuffPost UK has learned.
Allies of Jeremy Corbyn are drafting rule changes which are expected to be approved by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) as a way of reforming the current system – without triggering a fresh civil war among MPs.
The aim is to create new rules that stop short of a return to ‘mandatory reselection’, a system last seen in the 1980s that led to bitter local oustings of Parliamentarians.
The proposed reforms seek to curb perceived unfairness in the system, whereby unions can in theory outvote local members by creating limitless numbers of new ‘branches’.
But they also aim to open up Westminster selections by giving more trade union members more of a say.
A behind-the-scenes battle has been going on in recent days over the precise nature of the proposals.
Some on the Left want a ‘two trigger’ system that effectively forces an MP to face a contest if they fail to simply win a majority of either the members or union branches.
Some unions want a system that would see MPs facing a challenge only if both sections fail to give them a majority.
A ‘third way’ compromise plan would create a ‘weighted’ system similar to the electoral college that used to apply to the party leadership elections.
Under this proposal, two separate sections would be created and union and party members would have a power proportionate to their numbers, while MPs would still need to get more than 50% of their combined support.
The hybrid model was used last week to reselect Sadiq Khan unopposed as the Labour candidate for the 2020 London Mayoral race.