Labour's largest affiliate, Unite, votes to support mandatory reselection of MPs

Unite says Labour Party members should be able to 'select candidates that reflect their views'

Katie Forster
Thursday 14 July 2016 21:30 BST
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Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington
Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington

Britain’s biggest union Unite has intensified the rift at the heart of the Labour Party with a call for MPs to face a mandatory reselection vote every five years.

Delegates at the union's conference in Brighton voted for a motion in support of the controversial move, which MPs opposed to leader Jeremy Corbyn fear would be used to launch a purge against them amid a swell of left-wing support in the Party.

Labour Party members should be able to “select candidates that reflect their views” before each general election, said the motion passed by Unite, Labour’s largest affiliate.

“MPs have not got ‘jobs for life’. They represent their constituency but ultimately they are selected by and accountable to their Constituency Labour Party,” said the motion.

“To ensure democratic accountability and the rights of party members to select candidates that reflect their views, conference supports the need for mandatory reselection of Labour MPs in each Parliament as essential.”

Mandatory reselection, whereby sitting MPs must persuade their local parties to let them keep their seats, was introduced to the Labour Party in the 1980s by supporters of left-wing MP Tony Benn.

However, it was brought to an end by Neil Kinnock in 1990, in an attempt to reunite the party.

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Unite also overwhelmingly voiced support for Mr Corbyn as he faces attempts by other MPs to oust him.

A Labour leadership contest has been triggered by challenges to Mr Corbyn from Angela Eagle, the former shadow business secretary, and Owen Smith, who has promised to hold a second referendum on any Brexit deal if elected Party leader.

The new leader will be announced on 24 September, it was confirmed today.

Nominations for the election close on 20 July, and there is a two day window between July 18 to 20 for people to pay £25 to register to vote in the contest, with ballot papers being mailed from 22 August.

The candidates will hold their first hustings at a meeting of Labour MPs and MEPs next Monday.

During Mr Corbyn’s campaign to become leader in September, his spokesperson told the Guardian he would not seek to introduce mandatory reselection measures if he were to be elected.

“Jeremy is all about bridge building and he will work to unite the Labour party under his leadership so, of course, Jeremy won’t introduce mandatory reselection for sitting MPs and he has absolutely no intention of deposing sitting MPs,” said the spokesperson.

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