Kinnock presses Smith on reform

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The Independent Online
NEIL KINNOCK, the former Labour leader, put pressure on his successor yesterday to reject a compromise over giving every party member a vote in the selection of parliamentary candidates.

Those close to John Smith hinted he may follow Mr Kinnock's advice and come down against creating a 'supporters' club' of trade union members, who would pay a reduced fee but have voting rights.

The issue will now be seen a test of the commitment to modernise the party by Mr Smith, who is planning to make his position clear at Wednesday's meeting of the party's national executive, or shortly after.

The 'registered supporters' scheme would help to widen recruitment, but Mr Smith is expected to accept that this is outweighed by the disadvantages of the scheme, including the difficulty of implementing it. He has publicly supported reducing trade union power by ending block voting at party conferences and over the selection of the leader and deputy leader. He supports the choice being made by constituency parties and Labour MPs, each having 50 per cent of the votes.

Mr Kinnock made it clear on the BBC television programme On the Record that he was disappointed at Mr Smith's failure to press the issue of one-member- one-vote democracy to a vote at the Labour Party conference last year, when the former leader believed it would have won majority support.

He said the compromise scheme was 'cumbersome, expensive and confusing, and couldn't in any way be superior to a one- member-one-vote system for selecting parliamentary candidates.

'And it's the view that will prevail simply because of the practicality as well as the democracy of one member one vote, and the impracticality of diluted versions of that system that have been considered.'