Dramatic move to reorganise power in the Labour Party reversing Kinnock reforms

Labour is planning dramatic changes which would reorganise power within the party taking it away from MPs, councillors and the unions and giving it back to members.

The party’s key policy-making group, the National Policy Forum, is set to be scrapped as part of a plan which will be voted on at the Party’s ruling NEC tomorrow.

Labour’s ‘democracy review’ also includes plans to let candidates stand for leader with just 5% of MPs’ support, rather than the current 10%.

This threshold was already lowered from 15% after a row at a previous Labour conference, where some members wanted it cut to 5%.

Given the current make up of the membership it all but guarantees a successor to Jeremy Corbyn from the left of the party.

But signs are that other parts of the review, which would have seen Labour council leaders chosen by the local membership, instead of their fellow councillors, have been watered down after a huge backlash.

Sources now suggest the change will be ‘piloted’ in just a few areas.

Abolishing the NPF, which was brought in under Tony Blair , is one of a number of plans which would reverse reforms which took away power from members and which were begun under Neil Kinnock in a bid to oust the Militant faction from the Party and which New Labour extended.

A Labour Party Source, said: "The National Policy Forum is a Blair-era tool to manage members and trade unions, not to use the skills and creativity of Labour members and affiliates to develop policy to transform Britain.

Plans are also set to scrap what’s known as the “contemporary criteria” or “three-year” rule.

Currently if a CLP passes a constitutional amendment (a rule change), it is not debated until the following year’s conference.

Now, it is proposed that the contemporary criteria be abolished and constitutional amendments be debated the year they are submitted.

The new plans would see Jeremy Corbyn cede power to the membership.

One of the key changes is to make annual conference the sovereign body when it comes to policy making – in a move likely to be popular with the party membership who have for years complained about the neutering of the annual party gathering.

Instead of the NPF, which many argue has become defunct in recent years and which was overlooked by subsequent leaders,party sources say it will be replaced by a "people powered policy process".

Plans are also in place for a Policy Committee on the NEC, which has become a more and more powerful element of the Party in recent years.

Alex Mayer MEP who currently sits on the NPF told the Daily Mirror: “The NPF has been dying a slow death for some years. "Whatever replaces it should be a genuine way of representing the views of the many rather than those who shout the loudest.

"And a new policy-making structure must have the right support – a leader could always just ignore it if they wanted to. When the NPF worked well it was because it reflected voices from across the party.

"In fact if the Blair government had listened more to it they would have been aware of the problems in the private rented sector for example and other issues before they became serious crises.

"Giving more power to the party on policy is a good idea if it’s done properly.”

A Labour Party Spokesperson, said: “This Review is one of the biggest democratic exercises undertaken by any political party.

“We’ve received over 11,000 submissions and hundreds of consultation events have taken place in constituencies across the country about creating a more democratic, member-led Party.”

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