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Labour party socialists slam rule change proposals restricting candidate selection

SOCIALISTS in the Labour Party have slammed proposed rule changes restricting candidate selection and public involvement as a “bureaucratic power grab.”

The plans put forward to the party conference would mandate  compulsory training for members standing for selection and a probationary period for new members, according to details seen by LabourList.

The party’s national executive committee (NEC) will decide whether to approve the proposed constitutional amendments at a meeting due tomorrow. 

If given the green light, the rule changes would then be passed to the party conference, which will take place in Brighton from next Saturday September 25.

Among the proposals are significant overhauls of how candidates are selected, including a statement that reads: “Members must meet all relevant qualifications for the role, including undertaking any course of training that the NEC may prescribe.”

An existing one-year membership requirement for anyone seeking to become an elected Labour representative would also be waived and “delegated as the NEC sees fit.” 

The move comes after Kim Leadbetter, who was not a party member before being selected to contest the Batley and Spen by-election, won a Commons seat. 

Another proposed rule change would see a “probationary period of provisional membership” formally introduced. 

The plans mean that a member’s application could be “rejected for any reason which the general secretary sees fit.”

LabourList also reported that the amendments would give the NEC powers to “consider any conduct” by Labour representatives and candidates that does not comply with party guidance as “prejudicial and grossly detrimental.”

In total, the NEC will look at 83 pages of proposals.

Momentum raised concerns about some of the potential changes, with a spokesperson saying: “If these reports are correct, then this amounts to a bureaucratic power grab.

“[General secretary] David Evans simply cannot be trusted with greater power. He has shown himself incapable of acting fairly and he has used what power he does have to conduct a wide-ranging anti-democratic crackdown against grassroots members.

“The clique at the top at the party seem more interested in faction fighting than in winning the votes of working people with transformative policy. Conference must reject these anti-democratic rule changes and focus on a vision for getting into government.”

The Labour Party was approached for comment.

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