Unions set for clash with Corbyn over plan to elect party staff

The Labour leadership is facing a backlash over a plan to give members the power to elect senior party officials.

The Labour leadership is facing a backlash over a plan to give members the power to elect senior party officials.

It is understood that Labour’s long-awaited Democracy Review, which is designed to hand more power to rank and file members, includes a proposal that calls for Regional Directors to be directly elected. They are currently appointed by the party.

Despite the fact they are not high-profile figures, regional directors have a significant amount of power and influence. They work hand in hand with MPs to ensure resources are directed effectively so the party can win elections. They also help to enforce party discipline.

If members are given the power to select Regional Directors it would almost certainly result in a good number of incumbents losing their jobs. The GMB union, which represents Labour party staff, is likely to react furiously to the proposals for that reason.

The plan would turn the working relationship between RDs and Labour MPs on its head; Labour MPs would effectively report to regional directors, whose enhanced status as officials directly elected by members would give them primacy over Parliamentarians whose legitimacy rests on winning their seats in a general election.

The idea is already causing consternation amongst Labour MPs ahead of a key meeting of Labour’s NEC, which meets today to approve the Democracy Review before it is put to conference later this year.

MPs fear that elected Regional Directors will make their jobs impossible by politicising an organisational and administrative role and placing it under the control of a political faction.

Many of them are already under pressure from CLPs who regularly question their enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn and view anything other than blind loyalty to the Labour leader as tantamount to an act of counter-revolutionary treachery.

Corbyn’s own track record as a Labour rebel and his habit of organising and promoting leadership challenges against Labour leaders from Neil Kinnock onwards has not prevented his supporters from characterising even the mildest expression of descent or disagreement as proof of disloyalty.

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