Leader on probation: Could Labour leadership race include “safety valve”?

Support grows for new methods of ousting next leader

The next leader of Labour hasn’t yet been chosen, but the party is already talking about how it can get rid of them.

And it wouldn’t be surprising if Labour voters are less than enthralled by the clutch of potential leaders on offer either.

All of them supported the war in Iraq, none support re-nationalisation of the railways, and all but one of them (Mary Creagh) are former government special advisors, or “spads”.

They also all have similar economic views, with Hackney MP Diane Abbot recently pointing out that none of them oppose “austerity-lite”, and none oppose the welfare cap.

In an immediate bid to shake-off Miliband’s legacy, the candidates have all begun to push their pro-business agenda. But is this what potential Labour voters want? Isn’t this precisely what the Conservatives do well at?

For many would-be Labour voters it’s a case of rolling the dice, and hoping it explodes.

However, a glimmer of hope may still remain for those who watched aghast for five whole years while Ed Miliband steered the party towards the rocks and think the whole process is about to begin again.

This time, senior party figures have proposed that a method of ousting leaders be introduced before the next election is held.

Such a move would effectively put a leader ‘on probation’, for the first few years of their tenure.

The Independent points out that one way of achieving this would be for the party to adopt the Tory rule whereby just 15% of a party’s MPs are needed to call a confidence vote.

Hunt hits out

Tristram Hunt hinted that he would support such a scheme. Announcing that he had not garnered enough support to run as Labour leader, Hunt said that some rules could be re-written to include a “safety valve”.

He said: “There are a lot of colleagues talking about break clauses and the willingness of candidates to renew their vows with the Labour Party in the run-up to the general election. If there are fears about the future of the party, there’s a route to avoid some of that sentimentality that the party has within it…. You don’t want these things to happen all the time and undermining the leadership, but I think you could also get to a position whereby, if there is a lack of confidence from a certain number of MPs, then you have a trigger process.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, Baroness Jan Royall of Blaisedon, voiced a similar view on Newsnight, saying, “I think it would be very good if whoever puts themselves forward were to say, ‘in three years time it would be really good if you could reaffirm that I’m the right person to take us forward’.”

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Readers' comments (1)


  • Not to mention that the one in the middle looks suspiciously like Nick Clegg in drag.

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