As the Labour Party teeters on the verge of civil war, Diane Abbott has today launched a scathing attack on Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer. The Labour leader wants to modify the party’s leadership rules, giving members less control and giving MPs and trade unions more.
Sir Keir wants to bring back Labour’s former leadership election system, in which MPs, party members, and trade union representatives each got a third of the vote in leadership elections. Ed Miliband eliminated this in 2014, instead giving each Labour Party and linked trade union member one vote.
In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader using this approach, receiving more than half of the vote while receiving minimal support from MPs. Allies of Jeremy Corbyn are concerned that the planned rule changes will make it more difficult for the Labour left to win another leadership election.
Ms Abbott, who was once the shadow home secretary, took to Twitter to criticise Sir Keir.
“When will it occur to Keir Starmer that the ludicrously undemocratic electoral college that he is trying to force through will not just make it easier to block left-wing Labour Party leaders, it will make it easier for the right to dump him when the time comes?” she tweeted.
“Keir Starmer would NEVER have got elected leader if Labour Party members had realised that he planned to take power away from them by scrapping one person one vote.”
“If he is successful in scrapping one person one vote for leadership elections, Keir Starmer is in effect telling party members that they can never have a leader who believes in the things that they believe in.”
“When Keir Starmer was campaigning for the Labour leadership, he promised ‘common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water’, and a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance.”
“Not a mention of these things in his new pamphlet.”
On Friday, Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee will examine the proposed rule change. If authorised, the Labour Party conference will vote on it over the weekend. According to The Independent, Sir Keir outlined his argument for the rule change during a shadow cabinet session on Wednesday.
“These rules won’t be presented on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.” he is claimed to have added.
“I am prepared to take suggestions and ideas and have a conversation and to try and build consensus. But the principles are important to me.”
“I hope [the trade unions] will support me. I believe these changes are good for their members, and they strengthen our link.”
“I know that this is difficult – change always is – but I think these changes are vital for our party’s future.”
Momentum, a left-wing group, founded to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, has slammed the measures.
“Any attempt to take these rule changes to conference would mark the start of a civil war in the party,” they warned.
“Grassroots members will have no choice but to mobilise all our strength to fight back against this bureaucratic attack.”
“Conference will get very messy, very fast – and there is no saying who will come out on top. “
“This marks a new low in Starmer’s leadership.”
Last October, Mr Corbyn was suspended from Labour over his response to a study on anti-Semitism within the party. Despite the fact that his Labour membership was quickly reinstated, he has yet to reclaim the Labour whip in Parliament.