Labour leadership race: Senior figures want to oust Ed Miliband's successor before next election

The move would leave the next new elected leader 'on probation'

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Indy Politics

Senior Labour figures want the party to be given the chance to oust the leader chosen as Ed Miliband’s successor before the next general election.

In effect, the move would leave the new leader elected in September “on probation” and make it much easier for Labour MPs to ditch him or her if they failed to revive the party’s prospects ahead of the 2020 election.

Supporters of the plan say that the party’s cumbersome procedures made it difficult to dump Gordon Brown before the 2010 election and to remove Mr Miliband before this month’s contest --even though the party might have done better under a different leader.

The Labour rulebook says that to trigger a leadership contest, a special party conference must be called or a vote taken at its annual conference in September.


Traditionally, Labour has been less willing than the Conservatives to sack its leader, while the Tories pushed out Margaret Thatcher in 1990 when she lost the confidence of her Cabinet and ditched Iain Duncan Smith in 2003 when he lost a vote of confidence among his MPs. One option for Labour would be to adopt the Tories’ rule, which requires 15 per cent of the party’s MPs to call a confidence vote.

Tristram Hunt, the shadow Education Secretary, said Labour’s rules should be be rewritten to include a “safety valve”. He said: “There are a lot of colleagues talking about break clauses and the willingness of candidates to renew their vows with the Labour Party in the run-up to the general election. If there are fears about the future of the party, there’s a route to avoid some of that sentimentality that the party has within it…. You don’t want these things to happen all the time and undermining the leadership, but I think you could also get to a position whereby, if there is a lack of confidence from a certain number of MPs, then you have a trigger process.”

Baroness (Jan) Royall of Blaisdon, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: "I think it would be very good if whoever puts themselves forward were to say, 'look in three years time it would be really good if you could reaffirm that I'm the right person to take us forward'.”

Mr Hunt announced that he would not run for the Labour leadership, admitting he had not gathered the required nominations of 35 MPs. He endorsed the moderniser Liz Kendall, saying that if he had pursued his own campaign he might have stopped her getting over the first hurdle. Mr Hunt said: “Liz appreciates the nature of the [Labour] crisis; I think she speaks effectively to large parts of the country that we need to regain; I think she marries a determination about economic efficiency and social justice.”

Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have won so many pledges of support that some Labour insiders believe that only about 75 of the party’s 232 MPs are uncommitted. That could limit the contest to a three-horse race between Mr Burnham, Ms Cooper and Ms Kendall.

Ms Cooper announced that Vernon Coaker, the shadow Defence Secretary, and Shabana Mahmood, the  shadow Chief Treasury Secretary, will  co-chair her  campaign. Mr Coaker said he was backing Ms Cooper because "she is the candidate who can win the next election and give us a Labour government".