Allies of Jeremy Corbyn could break local party affiliations to trade unions in a fresh bid to deselect moderate MPs.
The party leadership is said to be considering moves to radically limit or even end the practice of local parties affiliating to trade union branches and socialist societies. This would have sweeping consequences for selections, as affiliated branches can currently vote in the ‘trigger ballot’ that decides whether an MP must face a full reselection process or not.
Many Labour MPs have built up affiliations between their local parties and friendly branches to ensure that the selection process ends at the trigger ballot stage, allowing them to focus on getting re-elected. Curtailing affiliations would affect MPs from all wings of the party, but could disadvantage moderate MPs most by giving Corbyn-supporting members more influence.
In another clear sign of the leadership’s intentions, Labour general secretary Jennie Formby is reported to have requested data on local party affiliations for a 10 August deadline, with briefing around the investigation suggesting that she expects to find irregularities that support the case for changes to the practice.
While Labour’s 83-page Democracy Review stopped short of making concrete recommendations on selections, its proposed changes to party conference would allow for votes on the selection process, something that Momentum is said to be pushing for this year. Many major trade unions, including the GMB, would fiercely oppose the plan.
The news will alarm many Labour MPs that had thought themselves secure from threats of deselection.