Words by Jasmine Crowhurst, News Sub-Editor
The Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton, which took place from Saturday 25th until Wednesday 29th September, featured frictions of opinions within the party and controversy over the party’s choice of action. The Labour Party has voted to amend the rules governing how it elects leaders at its 2021 party conference.
Disputes over these changes show that friction continues within the party. Heated debates within the Labour party have continued to make headlines, whilst Sir Keir Starmer hopes to shift Labour’s focus onto economic and foreign policies.
Internal debates continue to dominate the media’s coverage of the party, at a time where Starmer’s Labour should be promoting policies.
Starmer presented the party’s list of reforms at the conference, the most noteworthy being a change in eligibility to stand for Labour leadership. Candidates standing for leadership must now gain 20% backing from Labour MPs, in a bid to ensure further stability and backing from the Parliamentary Labour Party after years of unrest in cohesion between leaders and the party’s respective Members of Parliament.
Starmer has previously tried to return to past methods by attempting to reintroduce an electoral college – a system that had operated until 2014. This separated the proportion of votes cast at leadership elections into thirds, the Labour MP’s, local members and trade unions.
However, as the proposals appeared likely to be defeated, Starmer’s supporters bargained for the 20% threshold to act as a gatekeeper for future leadership elections. Starmer commented that the changes were a ‘crucial step forward for the party’. Despite the reform passing, Starmer was met by criticism from the likes of general secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, who called the plans for the move, “unfair, undemocratic and a backward step”.