Council Deputy Leader blasts Starmer’s move to change Labour leadership election rules
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
The Deputy leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council has hit out at proposals by Labour leader Keir Starmer to change the way the party elects its leaders.
Labour councillor Jamie Pritchard labelled the proposals as “anti-democratic”.
Mr Starmer has proposed return to an electoral college to elect the party’s leaders – a move away from the current one member one vote system in which Mr Starmer was himself elected on.
But Cllr Pritchard said Mr Starmer “must halt his damaging and divisive” proposals.
“This is a highly unwelcome distraction that will be music to the ears of Labour opponents across the UK. The move will launch a highly divisive battle at one of the worst times possible.”
The electoral college system sees the party split into three distinct groups – Members of Parliament; trade unions and affiliated organisations; and party members. The votes of each of these groups will be equal to each other.
Mr Starmer, who replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader in 2020, is arguing that the change to election rules will strengthen the Labour Party’s relationship with unions.
This system was abolished by Ed Miliband in 2014. Critics argue that a return to the electoral college system would give MPs more power and party members would have less.
A vote on the proposal will be held at the Labour Party’s conference in Brighton on Sunday, September 26.
Welsh Labour changed the voting system for the election of the leader in 2018. The current one member one vote system was secured with a two-to-one majority at the special conference.
Cllr Pritchard added: “Welsh Labour had it right to demand equal votes for all members. This regressive proposed move backwards would create an extremely unequal voting system where MP’s demand at least a 1000/1 majority over the party member.
“The principles of moving to the former system were rejected by the vast majority of members in Wales no less than three years ago.
“A return to the discredited electoral system would be anti–democratic and this is something that should be rejected.”
Mr Starmer revealed the proposals to his shadow cabinet earlier this week.
The Labour leader said: “Our rules as they are right now focus us inwards to spend too much time talking to and about ourselves and they weaken the link with our unions. I know that this is difficult, change always is, but I think these changes are vital for our party’s future.”