Miliband takes on the unions with plan to dilute their influence

Members of the public will be given a formal role in the choice of Labour's policies, candidates and future leaders under far-reaching reforms to be unveiled today.

Ed Miliband will offer ordinary people the chance to become "registered supporters" free of charge without paying Labour's £41-a-year subscription fee. He will also invite pressure groups such as "green" bodies and non-governmental organisations to become "registered bodies".

The aim of the "Refounding Labour" project is to combat the decline in membership, which has afflicted all political parties, and to transform Labour into an outward-looking party for the internet age.

Labour sources deny that the real goal is to dilute the influence of the trade unions, who have half the votes at the party's annual conference and a third of the votes in the electoral college which chooses the Labour leader. However, that could be one side-effect of the drive to broaden Labour's base, since some of the voting power enjoyed by ordinary members and unions could be reduced to hand a share to the new registered supporters and bodies.

Labour's open-minded approach to internal reform will be stressed in a document to be published today by Peter Hain, the shadow Welsh Secretary, who is in charge of the wide-ranging review. Some insiders say the result could prove to be even more radical than Tony Blair's landmark decision to scrap Clause IV, Labour's long-standing commitment to public ownership.

A ground-breaking exercise will see Labour using text messages, email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media to allow people to join an interactive debate on the party's future structure, rather than send in one formal submission.

"If people do not join parties in the way they used to, we have to find new ways to reach them," one senior Labour source told The Independent. "Ed wants to refound Labour for a new generation and leapfrog the other parties. We have lost members hand over fist and politics is changing beneath our feet."

Labour's membership slumped from 405,000 in 1997 to around 150,000 earlier this year, but has since bucked the recent trend by attracting 50,000 new recruits. Labour's national executive will draw up specific reform plans in June and they will be decided at the party's annual conference in September. Mr Miliband regards the exercise as an important part of his drive to position his party as representing mainstream Britain.

Today, the Labour leader will join Liberal Democrats Baroness Williams, Charles Kennedy and Tim Farron, and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas at the first cross-party rally in support of a Yes vote in the 5 May referendum on whether to switch from the first-past-the-post system to the alternative vote. He will hint at co-operation and possible coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the next general election.

Mr Miliband will say: "This Tory-led government and its alliance of power with the Liberal Democrats does not change my belief that there is a progressive majority in this country. Britain deserves an electoral system that fairly reflects voters' views. I will be campaigning for a majority Labour government at the next election, whatever voting system we have. If there is a Conservative majority, they deserve the same right. But rule without a mandate, simply because the majority is divided, is unfair on voters."

He will argue that the "tragedy for progressive politics" in Britain is that division on the centre and left has handed a united right victory after victory.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
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

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam