Votes six and eight at this year’s Labour conference in Liverpool have seen delegates approve the NEC’s recommendations for changes to the processes for Labour’s leadership nominations and for constituency parties (CLPs) to initiate a selection process to potentially replace an incumbent Labour MP.
The two votes carried with 63.94% in favour for the nomination changes and 65.32% for the selection. This was considerably tighter than the less contentious NEC proposals, which all scored well into the nineties, but still a far higher level of support among CLP delegates who were almost unanimous in voting to reject the CAC (Conference Arrangements Committee) report containing these and other members. This supports the idea that members’ issues with the CAC report were less about the fact that acceptance meant that ‘open selection‘ and more about other issues such as the treatment of housing and other motions.
Would-be candidates in future leadership elections will now need nominations from ten percent of Labour MPs and either five percent of Labour-affiliated organisations or from CLPs representing five percent of Labour members. Although a slightly raised bar and not the reduction in the number of MP nominations hoped for by many members, in reality this presents little realistic obstruction to good left candidates in future, as unions and members will have increased power to pressure MPs to nominate a left candidate.
The selection process change, termed ‘affirmative ballot‘, will require CLP members to win a straight OMOV (one member one vote) ballot in only one out of every three branches in a CLP in order to secure a fresh selection process.
Affiliate branches, which were previously counted in deciding whether a ‘trigger ballot’ threshold had been passed, will now be in a separate category and able to hold their own affirmative ballot, but will not be able to influence the members’ result.
While this is not the automatic ‘open selection’ that has been pushed as the ‘only democratic option’ recently, affirmative ballot is a huge improvement on the previous trigger-ballot process – and any CLP with enough members to achieve ‘50% +1’ to replace an MP will be able to achieve a win in just 33% of its branches. The power is now firmly in the hands of members, as long as they’re motivated enough to vote for change.
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