Labour Conference 2021 – live: Keir Starmer drops key leadership election changes hours before annual meeting

© Jonathan Brady/PA keir starmer

LIVE – Updated at 09:07

Keir Starmer has abandoned plans to overhaul Labour’s rulebook by changing the way future leaders are elected in a major climbdown just hours before the party’s annual conference kicks off.

The opposition leader had wanted to rewrite the regulations for his party’s internal elections in a move critics said was an attempt to “gerrymander” future leadership elections to the disadvantage of the left.

But a senior source told The Independent the proposal to return to the electoral college system – giving MPs a greater say in leadership contests – had been dropped, although they insisted Sir Keir would come forward with “different changes” at the party conference.

A spokesman for Sir Keir said: “The Labour leader will be putting a package of party reforms to the NEC that better connect us with working people and reorient us toward the voters who can take us to power.”

It comes after the Labour leader endured a “car crash” meeting with union chiefs on Friday afternoon in which he failed to drum up support for changes to Labour party rules on the eve of its annual conference.

Key Points

  • Keir Starmer’s vote plans blocked in ‘car crash’ talks on eve of conference
  • Keir Starmer drops key leadership election changes hours before annual meeting
  • Keir Starmer waters down Labour rulebook overhaul as he abandons electoral college proposal

Raising party reforms at annual conference would be a ‘bit rushed’, says Fire Brigades Union chief

09:00 , Chiara Giordano

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said it would be a “bit rushed” for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to bring his party reforms to the autumn conference.

The trade union leader, who was part of a Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation (Tulo) meeting this week to discuss the proposals with Sir Keir, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the first thing to say is what do people want out of Labour conference?

“We’ve got a jobs crisis coming up, a living standards crisis coming, energy crisis and so on.

“If Labour is going to win power and take on the Tories, I think people need to see Labour standing up for working people and that’s what we want, and I’m sure that’s what Labour voters want to hear – not a debate around how we elect a leader or select Labour MPs, and obviously how that will engage people wondering who to vote for.”

Mr Wrack added: “The Tulo organisation, the 12 affiliated unions, have agreed that we want consensus and the only way we can have consensus is if we meet. And there are no plans to meet.

“The conference starts today, so it seems a bit rushed to try and bring major proposals about the constitution of the Labour Party in a morning.”

Keir Starmer waters down Labour rulebook overhaul as he abandons electoral college proposal

08:52 , Chiara Giordano

Sir Keir Starmer has abandoned plans to overhaul Labour’s rulebook by changing the way future leaders are elected in a major climbdown just as the party’s annual conference kicks off.

It comes after the Labour leader endured a “car crash” meeting with union chiefs on Friday afternoon in which he failed to drum up support for the reintroduction of the electoral college system.

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the full story:

© Provided by The Independent

Starmer waters down Labour rulebook overhaul as he drops electoral college proposal

Keir Starmer drops key leadership election changes hours before annual meeting

08:39 , Chiara Giordano

It looks like Keir Starmer has U-turned on plans to change the way future leaders are elected at the eleventh hour.

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has this report:

Keir Starmer has abandoned plans to overhaul Labour’s rulebook by changing the way future leaders are elected in a major climbdown just as the party’s annual conference kicks off.

The opposition leader had wanted to rewrite the regulations for his party’s internal elections in a move critics said was an attempt to “gerrymander” future leadership elections to the disadvantage of the left.

A senior source told The Independent the proposal to return to the electoral college system — giving MPs a greater say in leadership contests — had been dropped, but insisted Sir Keir will come forward with “different changes” to party conference.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner added: “My understanding is the electoral college is not coming to the NEC [National Executive Committee] so therefore that wouldn’t [be voted on]”.

Asked whether the proposed changes were on or off, the deputy leader added: “Conference is a time where we discuss things like rules… these are things that conference does every year, year upon year.”

Keir Starmer will put reforms to Labour’s National Executive Committee, spokesman confirms

08:32 , Chiara Giordano

Labour has confirmed party leader Sir Keir Starmer will put his reforms for electing future leaders to its National Executive Committee (NEC).

A spokesman for the opposition leader said: “The Labour leader will be putting a package of party reforms to the NEC that better connect us with working people and reorient us toward the voters who can take us to power.”

Keir Starmer fails to win support for Labour rule change in ‘car crash’ meeting

08:27 , Chiara Giordano

Keir Starmer endured a “car crash” meeting with union chiefs on Friday afternoon in which he failed to drum up support for changes to Labour party rules.

The opposition leader had wanted to rewrite the regulations for his party’s internal elections in a move critics said was an attempt to “gerrymander” future leadership elections to the disadvantage of the left.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more on this story:

© Provided by The Independent

Keir Starmer fails to win support for rule change in ‘car crash’ meeting with unions

08:27 , Chiara Giordano

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as the Labour Party’s annual conference begins in Brighton today. Stay tuned for rolling updates on the latest news throughout the day.

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