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Labour Executive’s Wreckers’ Charter

Labour’s executive is to propose a rule change next week which legitimizes and facilitates attempts by mavericks and malcontents to undermine the party leader as repeatedly happened under Gordon Brown’s leadership. The amendment provides that “where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of party conference”. By placing the onus on “challengers” and failing to provide any timetable, the NEC are risking a media frenzy every time 2 or 3 disgruntled MPs issue a challenge to any future Leader.

Most party members recognised in the last parliament that, whatever the alleged shortcomings of Gordon Brown, triggering a leadership election in the run up to a general election would only serve to increase divisions in the party. Whilst there should be some mechanism for removing leaders who have lost the confidence of the party, it would be better to restrict that to a regular annual process than to allow it at ANY time.

In recent years, in spite of a rule that required nominations to be sought each year, that practice was not followed – Tony Blair had vetoed it. Far from preventing challenges, it facilitated repeated challenges. Surely it would be preferable to routinely seek nominations from all MPs. constituency parties and affiliated organisations? That would focus attention on the Leader’s support rather than a handful of  opponents.

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