Labour executive backs reforms

JOHN SMITH'S battle to get unions to accept his 'one member, one vote' proposals for Labour democracy looked even more finely balanced last night - despite endorsement of the plans by the party's national executive.

The Labour leader cleared an important hurdle as the NEC backed him by a better-than-hoped-for majority. But the shine of that success contrasted with the decision of the MSF union, potentially crucial to the final outcome, to continue its opposition.

In spite of the 20-7 NEC vote in favour of Mr Smith's proposals, the decision by the executive of the medium-sized MSF not to upset its conference decision against them makes it vital that he brings Unison, the newly-formed public service union, and Usdaw, the shopworkers' union, on side.

While a party spokesman emphasised that the 13-strong majority exceeded the strongest expectations of a few weeks ago, the mood after the three-hour meeting was one of studied restraint. 'I'm gratified there was such strong support,' said Mr Smith. A summer of 'discussion and persuasion' now follows.

'These are new proposals which have not yet been considered by the Labour movement,' Mr Smith said. 'I recommend them . . . and believe that they will greatly strengthen both Labour Party democracy and the links between the Labour Party and the trade unions and their members.'

The seven voting against were representatives from Usdaw, the TGWU, the GMB and GPMU, and Tony Benn, the left-wing MP for Chesterfield.

Dan Duffy, a TGWU representative on the committee, said: 'As far as we're concerned the present proposals will reduce the links and will emasculate the trade union movement.'

Those backing last Wednesday's trade union review group 'consensus' included representatives from Nupe (now part of Unison), TSSA, and AEU.

The review group's decision was the product of a compromise presented by Mr Smith after most unions had rejected the more radical changes he originally proposed. It would give MPs, party members and union members who register as Labour supporters an equal say in elections of the party leader. For parliamentary selections, Mr Smith insists that political levy-paying trade unionists must pay a cut-price party membership fee before being allowed to vote.

The TGWU and the GMB insist in their motions for the party's autumn conference in Brighton that political levy-payers should be included in both processes without more ado.

With MSF now aligned with these two unions, who account for about 18 per cent of the final conference vote, the fate of the Smith plan may turn heavily on the efforts of sympathetic figures such as Tom Sawyer, a Unison deputy general secretary, and Garfield Davies, general secretary of Usdaw. Mr Davies is due to meet his executive today to discuss reconsideration of his union's narrow rejection of Mr Smith's original suggestions. The Unison political committee is also due to reconvene to consider the compromise package.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy