Starmer comes under fire over potential new party reforms ahead of Labour conference

25 September 2021, 08:51 | Updated: 25 September 2021, 13:44

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy speaking during a leadership hustings event for the Labour Party, at the Grand Hotel in Brighton.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy speaking during a leadership hustings event for the Labour Party, at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Labour's party conference will open in Brighton this afternoon, with Sir Keir Starmer already coming under fire for potential new party reforms.

The five-day conference is being seen as a make-or-break for the Labour party leader, who has remained behind Boris Johnson and the Conservatives in the polls and faced questions over his leadership in recent months.

The conference is expected to be particularly fraught this year, as the party attempts to push through changes to the method by which it elects its leaders.

Sharon Graham, recently elected as the new leader of trade union Unite, has said she will stay away from this year's party conference in protest.

However, Sir Keir Starmer's bid to reform Labour's leadership election rules appeared "dead" on Saturday as his deputy confirmed his electoral college proposal will not be put to the party's autumn conference.

In a proposal that had divided the party and sparked talk of a "civil war" with the left in the build-up to its Brighton conference, the Labour leader was understood to be pushing to scrap the system which was used to elect both him and Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

With trade unions failing to back the move during crunch talks this week, the Opposition leader seems to have heavily watered down his reforms.

The party leader said Labour's ruling National Executive Committee had backed his revised set of party reforms on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm very pleased these party reforms have got the backing of our NEC," he said.

"These proposals put us in a better position to win the next general election and I hope constituency and trade union delegates will support them when they come to conference floor."

The conference is being held in Brighton, at the Brighton Centre and the Hilton Brighton Metropole.

It is the first Labour conference in two years, after last year’s was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Details of what's being called a 'new deal' for staff will be shared by deputy leader Angela Rayner at the party conference in Brighton later.

Read more: HGV shortage: Govt 'created this crisis' through inaction, Angela Rayner says

Labour insists improving wages, job security and rights at work will boost productivity, as well as the health of employees.

That includes the minimum wage rising to at least 10-pounds an hour.

LBC will be bringing you live coverage from the conference in Brighton, with guests on air across the next five days.

Highlights today include an introduction by National Executive Committee (NEC) Chair Margaret Beckett and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner's report to delegates.

The deputy Labour leader is expected to commit the party to introducing a new deal for working people - including pay rises and new employment rights - if it wins the next election.

Labour General Secretary David Evans will also give his report this afternoon. A vote is expected today on whether Evans should continue in his post, with Unite having already said it will not support him.

Leader Sir Keir Starmer appointed Evans to the job earlier this year but the decision must be ratified at Party Conference.

Earlier this week former shadow chancellor John McDonnell highlighted to the Left Foot Forward website the effects of a 'purge' under Evans and the loss of 150,000 members.

Keep your eyes on the LBC website and social pages for all the live updates from the conference.