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Momentum hits out at proposed changes to Labour leadership election rules

The grassroots organisation said the party's NEC ‘completely misjudges the mood of the membership’

SUPPORTERS of Jeremy Corbyn have hit out at a proposal to change Labour’s leadership election rules that they argue would exclude any socialist candidates from future ballots.

Grassroots organisation Momentum said that the proposal agreed by union leaders and presented at a meeting of the party’s national executive committee today “completely misjudges the mood of the membership.”

If adopted, it would mean that a candidate would need the support of 10 per cent of Labour MPs — currently 26 out of 257 — and 5 per cent of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) to run for leadership.

They would also need backing from at least three Labour-affiliated groups, two of which would have to be trade unions representing 5 per cent or more of affiliated members.

Two other options being discussed behind closed doors by the NEC would allow candidates to stand with 5 per cent of Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) backing in addition to 10 per cent of CLPs or three trade unions comprising 10 per cent of affiliated members.

A Momentum spokesman said: “If there were a leadership election tomorrow using this system, a candidate like Jeremy Corbyn would likely be kept off the ballot.”

The proposals are reported to be “compromises” to stave off “open” selections of MPs. Momentum backs these selections but some unions believe they would reduce their role in choosing MPs.

Labour conference next week will vote to approve or reject the proposals.

Momentum has urged Labour members to email the NEC to allow open MP selections and reject the “compromise.”

The NEC is also reported to be proposing changes to party rules to give itself more power in the event Mr Corbyn quits as leader and to curb autonomy of the deputy leader, currently Tom Watson.

It was also considering possible rule changes following criticism of its handling of a sexual assault claim made by former NEC member Bex Bailey, who waived her right to anonymity to describe how she was raped at a party event in 2011.

She accused Labour of “dragging its feet” over sexual harassment within its ranks.

While Labour commissioned a report by an independent QC in response to her allegations, she said that a year on from her original claims it had yet to act on the findings.

A spokesman said measures were adopted to strengthen procedures, including the creation of a dedicated helpline, anonymising complaints and the appointment of an independent advice organisation.

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