Keir Starmer's Labour reform plans will expose not just his politics, but his competence

When Keir Starmer held his crunch meeting on his Labour reform plans, the distance between him and the trade union bosses wasn’t just because everyone was on Zoom. While there was no rancour, there was something a little more worrying: a united front from disparate unions, all agreed that this year’s conference was too soon for big changes.

The more-in-sorrow-than-anger tone of even friendly union general secretaries in Usdaw, Community and Unison made plain their discomfort at being bounced into long-lasting constitutional reforms. Shrewdly, Unite had picked up on the unease and proposed that more time was needed for momentous changes like a return to an electoral college for leadership elections.

In the week before the annual conference, the union meeting normally seeks consensus. Crucially, general secretaries are acutely aware of the huge power they have (50 per cent of the votes at conference, with 50 per cent for party members) over constitutional changes. When some in Jeremy Corbyn’s team pushed for mandatory reselection of sitting MPs in 2018, even the usually supportive Len McCluskey joined other union chiefs in coming up with a compromise instead.

This time, some unions were more concerned with practicalities, such as the sheer financial costs and practical difficulties they might be faced with if two million of their members were given ballot papers. And even unions friendly to Starmer worried that they were being lined up for the backlash if they supported the reform. “Why should they take the hit for Keir?” one insider said. “Unions are furious they’ve been put in this position,” another added. “It’s dead in the water, at least for this year’s conference.”

Crucial to any success would be Britain’s biggest union, Unison. General secretary Christine McAnea is already under pressure from her Left-dominated national executive, which is furious at being denied attempts to call for the reinstatement of Corbyn as a Labour MP. Unison’s LabourLink Committee elections are ongoing and won’t be resolved until October, with both Left and right claiming they could tip the balance of power.

What spooked several involved was the lack of spadework to square off big unions privately before Starmer went public with his dramatic proposals this week. Allies of the leader say, somewhat mysteriously, that there were good “logistical” reasons of internal union politics that prevented that pitch-rolling. But many on the soft left, including MPs, saw it as just inept machine management.

One senior party insider said Starmer had allowed himself to be manipulated by the hardline former Blairites around him. “It’s not just factional, it’s damaging to Keir. He has no politics and this proves it.” Supporters of the leader counter that he made his own mind up about ending the one-member, one-vote system. “If anyone thinks Keir is malleable, they’re mistaken,” said one.

Given the unease, Starmer could park the electoral college plan, hold a special conference in a few weeks’ time and focus instead on easier wins in Brighton. Unions appear to be more on board with moves that make it harder to trigger the deselection of sitting MPs and reducing the number of motions discussed at conference.

Backers of the reforms say that even a special conference could still pass the reforms. Only smaller unions like the CWU, FBU and TSSA outright opposed the plans on the Zoom call. The downside of delay is that Starmer would face both the humiliation of not getting his way at his first in-person annual conference, as well as weeks more distraction as local parties and unions were forced to pick a side.

© Provided by The i Read More – Featured Image

Some party staff point out that Starmer’s new director of strategy Deborah Mattinson’s very first presentation to the leader’s office focused heavily on the feedback from voters that Labour had to stop talking to itself and had to look outwards to the public. Starmer himself has spent weeks repeating his message that he wants to turn Labour “inside out”.

One backer of the electoral college idea claimed that it would send a strong message to floating voters that there will “never again be a danger of a Corbyn taking over”. Others claim leftwing party members’ concerns are divorced from mainstream concerns of the voters. “In recent years, we’ve had the spectacle of Labour members waving Palestine flags at conference. The public might wonder why they aren’t waving union jacks instead,” one said.

Critics of the plan felt its biggest error was in exposing Starmer’s political inexperience. “He risks looking weak and humiliated at precisely the moment he should be attacking the Tories, and when we are all united around the cost of living crisis,” one MP said. 

But others say Starmer has to follow through, rather than delay. “Are GMB, Usdaw and Unison really going to tell the leader of the Labour party that he can’t carry out the reforms to the Labour party he wants? Especially when he’s offering them more power as unions, not less?” Starmer could still roll the dice and push his plan at a meeting of Labour’s ruling national executive on Friday night.

There is another bigger danger, however. Giving MPs more power over choosing their leader could tempt the right of the party into actually replacing Starmer himself, especially if they see him as a “lame duck” incapable of winning the next election. “Keir should remember that in politics you often have to be careful what you wish for,” one former minister tells me.

After more than a year of being accused of failing to define himself and his party, the next few days will certainly tell us more about what kind of leader Starmer is. How he responds to union unease over his biggest reform may tell the public more even about him than the 14,000 word essay he’s publishing overnight.

Starmer’s big play at the next election will be competence, attacking Boris Johnson’s handling of the pandemic, public services and the cost of living. If he bungles his party reform plan, just like he botched his shadow cabinet reshuffle earlier this year, a reputation for Ed Miliband-esque haplessness could start to stick.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Moscow format dialogue on Afghanistan tomorrow, India to participate

Taliban fighters sit on the back of a pickup truck as they stop on a hillside in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday on September 19, 2021 Russia will host the third meeting ... Read more »

3 Effective ways to tame your frizzy hair naturally

Frizzy hair is probably the villain in every woman’s life. Imagine you are getting ready, all dressed up in your finery and ready to step out. But your hair isn’t ... Read more »

Pakistan Navy says it blocked India's submarine, Indian sources deny claim

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Pakistan Navy on Tuesday (October 19) claimed that it blocked an Indian submarine from entering into its waters. They said the incident occurred ... Read more »

Fortenberry says he expects to be indicted in campaign finance probe

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said he anticipates that the federal government will charge him with lying to the FBI in the course of its investigation into campaign contributions from a Nigerian ... Read more »

Shriram Transport and Hero FinCorp may raise up to $600 mn offshore loan

MUMBAI: Shriram Transport Finance and Hero FinCorp (HFCL) are planning to raise up to $600 million through a syndicated offshore loan on increasing demand in the logistics space, three people ... Read more »

Emma Raducanu's off-court success story, from red carpet triumphs to deals with Dior

Emma Raducanu pictured at the Met Gala 2021 (left), winning the US Open 2021 (centre) and at the world premiere of ‘No Time to Die’. (Getty Images) Emma Raducanu's rise ... Read more »

Trade Setup: Nifty slips into broader consolidation range; significant downside unlikely

After an unabated move for more than a week, the Indian equity markets finally saw some corrective move taking place. Following a positive start to the day, the Nifty50 saw ... Read more »

Anna Sorokin: ‘Fake Heiress' detained by ICE for seven months because she ‘overstayed her visa'

Anna Sorokin: ‘Fake Heiress’ detained by ICE for seven months because she ‘overstayed her visa’ The so-called “Fake Heiress” has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for seven months ... Read more »

France returns marble angels stolen from Italy church in '89

ROME (AP) — A British art collector who bought a pair of 17th-century marble angels from a Neapolitan antiques shop two decades ago has returned the winged “putti” to Italy’s ... Read more »

The world's most luxurious train journeys

Sublime views and sumptuous service: after a journey like this, the 0810 to Paddington just won’t cut it – Venice Simplon-Orient-Express The glamour of high-end train travel has never faded, ... Read more »

How to join voice chat in Overwatch

© Provided by GamePur Working with your team is the key to winning fights in Overwatch, and luckily, joining voice chat is easy for every platform. You don’t have to ... Read more »

Family's fury as first holiday in 2 years cancelled over PCR testing fiasco

A MUM-OF-THREE has told how her family's first holiday in two years has been cancelled because of the West Country COVID testing fiasco. Kate Williams said she had booked a ... Read more »

Riot shares detailed look at League's new Hextech and Chemtech Dragons

© Provided by Dot Esports Get ready to spread your wings and climb the ranked ladder in League of Legends next year because Riot Games has finally given more details ... Read more »

Steht eine Sanierung an?: Wie Mieter gegen Leerkündigungen vorgehen können

Immer öfter werden ganze Siedlungen abgerissen oder totalsaniert. Danach steigen die Mieten. Zurück bleiben die Geschassten – und das hat zum Teil verheerende Folgen. © Reto Schlatter Wie Mieter gegen ... Read more »

Waller County plane crash today: Shocking pics show smoke billowing pummeling from jet that burst into flames in Texas

SHOCKING pictures showed smoke billowing pummeling from a jet that burst into flames after crashing in Texas. The aircraft reportedly went down near Morton and Cardiff roads in Waller County, ... Read more »

Beware: Pandemic-Related Scams Have Cost Consumers Over Half a Billion So Far

© Prostock-Studio / Getty Images/iStockphoto Mobile Scams Concept. Since the beginning of 2020, COVID-related scams have cost Americans a staggering $586 million, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission. ... Read more »

Salt Bae's Nusr-et restaurant sparks gold food craze as Indian restaurant copies with giant golden poppadom

SALT BAE’S Nusr-et restaurant has sparked a gold food craze – with one restaurant now creating a giant golden poppadom to rival his £630 gold-dusted steak. Shad Indian, a local ... Read more »

We Finally Know When We'll See Ozark Season 4

Netflix In the pantheon of Netflix dramas lined up for 2022, the final season of “Ozark” will undoubtedly turn up on a lot of watchlists. There’s only been question, thus ... Read more »

Diapers to yogurt, global firms face higher costs amid supply-chain woes

© Reuters/ELIJAH NOUVELAGE FILE PHOTO: Shoppers leave a Piggly Wiggly supermarket with a sign honoring veterans in its window in Columbus (Reuters) – Results from companies Procter & Gamble Co ... Read more »

Celebrity Ex On The Beach line up revealed as Love Island, Married At First Sight and Netflix stars

CRISIS-HIT Ex On The Beach has revealed its full line-up after filming wrapped in Tenerife. The Sun can exclusively reveal all the big name stars who are taking part in ... Read more »

Coronavirus: Singapore expands no-quarantine scheme for vaccinated travellers despite reporting record cases

© AFP A man cycles past the city skyline in Singapore on Wednesday. Photo: AFP Singapore on Tuesday began quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated passengers from eight countries, part of ... Read more »

Homeowners could be forced to spend thousands making properties eco-friendly just to remortgage or sell under Government's new green plans

© Provided by This Is Money MailOnline logo Home owners could be forced to make their home more energy efficient in order to sell it under the new Government Net ... Read more »

Xbox Series X Very restock TODAY: Queue opens to purchase Xbox bundles

© MICROSOFT Xbox Series X Very restock becomes available today Xbox Series X stock has become available to buy once again today in the UK, with online retailer Very the ... Read more »

Electric cars: Industry and green groups welcome Government's support for EVs in new net zero strategy

A green motor drive that includes £620 million in grants to help the public pay for electric vehicles and to build new charging points points on residential streets, has been ... Read more »

BMW driver, 28, who sparked 'anarchy' when he mowed down five birthday party guests 'like skittles' after brawl at five-star hotel spilled out onto London street is jailed for five years

Prince Atuahene, 28, drove his car into five people in Battersea in July 2019Victim Ahmed Askouri was carried for five metres on the bonnet of the BMW Atuahene was bailed after the attack and robbed a postman seven months later 'Highly reckless' Atuahene has now been jailed for five years for both offences Read more »

Man pays just £10.61 for four-star holiday to Turkey with his family – here is how he did it

A MAN managed to bag a four-star holiday including return flights with his family to Turkey for just £10.61. David Leitch, from Darlington, paid the tiny sum to spend seven ... Read more »

Call for new role to protect children's rights

An independent voice to protect and promote the rights of all children and young people should be established on the Isle of Man, an MHK has said. © PA Media ... Read more »

Fox Weather rolls out Oct. 25, and you can register starting Monday

Most of the time when we check out the weather app on our phones, it’s to find a forecast for today, or tomorrow, or maybe even a week or two ... Read more »

Public officials are under physical and digital siege

I am deeply troubled by recent events in which attackers appear to target U.S. diplomats with the purpose of causing them debilitating health symptoms. These symptoms include dizziness, headache, fatigue, ... Read more »

Amateur diver finds 900-year-old Crusader sword off Israel's coast

An Israeli amateur diver has found a sword, believed to be 900 years old, off the coast of northern Israel. Shlomi Katzin was recently scuba-diving near the town of Atlit, ... Read more »

Ian Rush warns Premier League quartet of "dark horse" as he makes Champions League claim

Ian Rush predicts an English club will lift the Champions League trophy in May – but warned them not to underestimate their German rivals. The Premier League has a strong ... Read more »

FBI raids home of Russian oligarch and Putin associate Oleg Deripaska

FBI agents are conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity” at Vladimir Putin-tied Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s home in Washington, D.C., an FBI spokeswoman told CNBC. Deripaska became widely known in the ... Read more »

You don't do that in the media - Bafana Bafana coach Broos takes aim at Mamelodi Sundowns' Mokwena

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos says he is “surprised” by Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena’s utterances in the media blaming the national team for injuries picked by the Brazilians’ ... Read more »

Lee Bowyer opens up on Troy Deeney's situation at Birmingham City

© Provided by Football League World Championship – Birmingham City v Derby County Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer has revealed summer signing Troy Deeney has been in top form in ... Read more »

Portsmouth v Ipswich Town: Latest team news, Is there a live stream? What time is kick-off?

© Provided by Football League World League One – Portsmouth v Accrington Stanley There’s a big game in League One this evening as Portsmouth take on Ipswich Town at Fratton ... Read more »

The Whiteboard: Meta themes that will define the 2021-22 NBA season

The Whiteboard is The Step Back’s daily basketball newsletter, covering the NBA, WNBA and more. Subscribe here to get it delivered to you via email each morning. © Provided by Fansided ... Read more »

Cristiano Ronaldo has won more Champions League games than all but four clubs

© GiveMeSport Cristiano Ronaldo really is Mr. Champions League! Cristiano Ronaldo is without question the greatest player in Champions League history. The Portuguese superstar has won the biggest club competition ... Read more »

Brugge vs Man City LIVE: Champions League team news, line-ups and more tonight

LIVE – Updated at 16:39 © Reuters Champions League – Group A – Club Brugge v Manchester City Manchester City are in Belgium this evening to take on Club Brugge ... Read more »

Wolves tipped to target Brazil star in January transfer window to solve Bruno Lage problem

Wolverhampton Wanderers have reportedly identified Brazilian left-back Guilherme Arana as one of their top transfer targets when the window reopens in January. This is according to Spanish media outlet Fichajes ... Read more »

Pokemon Sword and Shield: Get a free Shiny Zacian and Zamazenta from GameStop

Pokemon Sword and Shield players will soon have a chance to get their hands on Shiny versions of the games ‘ legendary cover monsters. Beginning Oct. 22, GameStop stores around ... Read more »