Jeremy Corbyn will give party members greater say over Labour’s Shadow Cabinet and policymaking, the Observer reports. This “democratic revolution” could entail democratic elections for shadow cabinet positions and digital consultations for members on policy.
Labour’s NEC is expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss a proposal from Tom Watson to reintroduce Shadow Cabinet elections, but where only the PLP will be entitled to a vote.
Digital consultations on policy already exist, in the form of the Your Britain website, with policy-making decisions confined to Party Conference each year, and the National Policy Forum, which has been conspicuous in its obscurity this year – failing to meet a single time since Jeremy Corbyn’s election, and currently chaired by Angela Eagle.
Owen Smith, in his latest tactical masterstroke, has opposed the proposals before even seeing them, showing once again his contempt for Labour members having a say in running their own party. Smith said it would “deepen divisions” and was “an attempt to further cement his position and use the membership as a means of driving a wedge between the MPs and his leadership.”
Meanwhile the question of mandatory reselection, and the selection process for MPs affected by boundary reviews, remains an open one. Clive Lewis MP, Shadow Defence secretary and a Corbyn ally, told Marr yesterday morning that there was a “legitimate democratic argument” around whether members should be able to select their MP every parliament.
Corbyn has hinted that MPs may face selection battles as a result of the boundary review process, but that is simply in line with party policy. Currently, if an MP’s ‘new seat’ includes more than 40% of their previous one, they will be a candidate in the selection contest, but it remains unclear as to how open that selection will be to challengers. MPs already face ‘selection’ every parliament in a formal process, but these are only ever opened into full selection contests via a ‘trigger ballot’ in rare circumstances.
Many of these issues may be addressed in one form or another at Labour’s annual conference, which takes place from Sunday the 25th of September, to Wednesday the 28th.