Grassroots Labour, a far-left grouping controlling nine of the 39 places on Labour’s NEC, is pushing for the changes as part of the ‘democracy review’ announced by Jeremy Corbyn after last year’s general election.
The group has demanded new nomination powers for constituency parties and trade unions in future leadership contests, so that any candidate nominated by 10 percent of parties, unions or MPs would make it on to the ballot paper.
Currently MPs act as gatekeepers in a leadership contest, with potential candidates requiring nominations from 15 percent of their fellow MPs in order to stand. This has traditionally made it difficult for left-wing candidates to make it on to the ballot paper, forcing Jeremy Corbyn to seek nominations from MPs that did not support him in 2015 on the basis that it would ‘widen the playing field’.
The changes proposed by the far-left would make MPs all but irrelevant to the nomination process, with local parties and trade unions ensuring that left-wing candidates always make it on to the ballot paper.
It follows an attempt last year to give left-wing candidates a better chance in future contests by lowering the nomination threshold to just 5 percent, but the proposals were not put forward for a vote at conference.