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Labour Conference 2021 – live: Keir Starmer drops key reforms as Angela Rayner announces fair pay agreements

·26-min read
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Keir Starmer has abandoned plans to overhaul Labour’s rulebook by changing the way future leaders are elected in a major climbdown just hours before the party’s annual conference kicks off.

The opposition leader had wanted to rewrite the regulations for his party’s internal elections in a move critics said was an attempt to “gerrymander” future leadership elections to the disadvantage of the left.

But a senior source told The Independent the proposal to return to the electoral college system - giving MPs a greater say in leadership contests - had been dropped, although they insisted Sir Keir would come forward with “different changes” at the party conference.

A spokesman for Sir Keir said: “The Labour leader will be putting a package of party reforms to the NEC that better connect us with working people and reorient us toward the voters who can take us to power.”

It comes after the Labour leader endured a “car crash” meeting with union chiefs on Friday afternoon in which he failed to drum up support for changes to Labour party rules on the eve of its annual conference.

Read More

Labour says it would bring back industry-wide collective bargaining for wages

Keir Starmer fails to win support for Labour rule change in ‘car crash’ meeting with union chiefs

This is the Labour Party’s vision for the future

Key Points

  • Starmer badly bruised by defeat over leadership rules as conference begins

  • Ex-Labour policy director condemns Starmer for ‘distracting’ media

  • The Sun newspaper is booed by delegates in Brighton

  • Labour members urge party to amend suspension process

  • Starmer accuses Tories of ‘letting people down so badly’

  • Period of silence observed for Sabina Nessa at Labour conference

Corbyn: Music and poetry at Labour events could ‘tempt people to socialism’

19:14 , Sam Hancock

Jeremy Corbyn has said more people could be tempted to embrace socialism if music and poetry were included in every party meeting.

The former Labour leader told an event at The World Transformed conference, which is running alongside the Labour Party conference in Brighton, that political meetings did not need to be boring and “held on cold winter nights in miserable halls”.

Mr Corbyn was responding to a question from the audience on how to tackle a fear of the word socialism.

“Well, socialism is about everyday life and how you live your life,” he replied, adding “the vast majority of people do hold socialist values to some extent or the other” and pointed to support for the NHS as an example.

But he said: “Socialism is also about culture, and art, and expression, which is why we shouldn’t sort of always cut ourselves off and insist that all meetings are only ever rather boring and rather dour and rather long, and preferably held on cold winter nights in the miserable halls.”

A delegate wears a Corbyn mask in the main hall on day one of the Labour Party conference (Getty)
A delegate wears a Corbyn mask in the main hall on day one of the Labour Party conference (Getty)

Rayner launches ‘Employment Rights Green Paper’

18:50 , Sam Hancock

Labour members urge party to amend suspension process

18:33 , Sam Hancock

Some more news from the Labour conference now. Party members have called for a means of deciding whether MPs suspended due to disciplinary action, like Jeremy Corbyn was, should be allowed back in after a vote.

Jen Dunstan, of Sheffield Heeley Labour Party, urged the national party to bring a report on disciplinary action to conference every year, which would allow members to “confirm or void any decision taken to suspend, or expel from the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party], any MP elected to Parliament as a Labour MP.”

Ms Dunstan said there had been “unjust and seemingly indefinite disciplinary action against Jeremy Corbyn MP”.

She added: “Please support, and let’s heal the wounds and build the unity we need to win a general election. Stronger Future Together.”

However, Unison swiftly said its recommendation would be to “oppose this new change”.

Wendy Nichols, a Unison official introducing the constitutional changes, said: “The clear legal advice we have received is that allowing extremely sensitive disciplinary cases, including those related to sexual harassment, to be debated on the conference floor would expose the party and individual members to a completely indefensible level of legal risk.”

At a glance: Starmer bruised by defeat over leadership rules

18:04 , Sam Hancock

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick takes a look at everything that happened on day one of Labour’s party conference.

A badly-bruised Keir Starmer will ask the Labour conference to back a watered-down shake-up of leadership rules, after an embarrassing defeat in his bid to scrap the system that elected Jeremy Corbyn.

The five-day event got off to the worst possible start for the Labour leader, who was forced into a U-turn that dented his authority and created a rift with his own deputy, Angela Rayner.

After the trade unions opposed the change – to return to an electoral college, handing power from members to MPs – diluted proposals will be put to delegates in Brighton on Sunday.

Read the full report here:

Keir Starmer bruised by defeat over leadership rules as Labour conference starts

Ex-Labour policy director condemns Starmer for ‘distracting’ media

17:35 , Sam Hancock

The Labour Party’s former director of policy has criticised Sir Keir Starmer for attempting to upend methods used to elect MPs and leaders, saying his timing had “distracted” the media from “what really matters” at this year’s conference.

Speaking to the BBC, Andrew Fisher, who was a Labour adviser under Jeremy Corbyn, said onlookers were “utterly bemused” why Sir Keir had “chosen now” to begin this debate.

He also took aim at journalists for failing to ask Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner the “right questions” on Saturday.

Explaining how Ms Rayner “rightly” attempted to get across her vision and policies for the next Labour government during media rounds this morning, Mr Fisher said: “All the journalists - and I’m not blaming the BBC, because it was everyone - but all they wanted to ask about was if Keir Starmer was going to face off with unions and members of the party.”

Sabina Nessa: Grieving family thanks hundreds at vigil

17:22 , Sam Hancock

Following my last post, here’s the latest on the investigation into Sabina Nessa’s death.

The primary school teacher’s grieving family thanked the hundreds of people who attended a vigil in her honour on Friday night.

‘Our world is shattered’: Family speaks to crowd at vigil for murdered Sabina Nessa

Period of silence observed for Sabina Nessa at conference

17:18 , Sam Hancock

A moment’s silence was observed today by Labour delegates in memory of Sabina Nessa, the primary school teacher murdered in southeast London.

Shadow equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds went on to speak about the party’s desire to tackle violence against women and girls.

Outlining the party’s aim to create a more equal society, Ms Dodds proclaimed she wanted to be a part of: “A Labour government committed to an equal recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

“A Labour government that would introduce a race equality act to tackle structural racial inequality at source.

“A Labour government that would make tackling violence against women and girls a priority. No more excuses.

“A Labour government that acknowledges that trans rights are human rights. A Labour government would reform the Gender Recognition Act to enable a process for self-identification while continuing to support the 2010 Equalities Act.”

Labour backed party’s new general secretary, conference told

17:00 , Sam Hancock

Labour members backed David Evans’ appointment as the party’s general secretary.

He had earlier told members he would put his leadership to a card vote.

Mr Evans was supported by 59.05 per cent votes to 40.95 per cent, the conference heard.

Evans reacts to chants and jeers as he speaks on day one of the Labour Party conference (Getty)
Evans reacts to chants and jeers as he speaks on day one of the Labour Party conference (Getty)

The Sun newspaper is booed at Labour’s annual conference

16:39 , Sam Hancock

Boos rang out at the Labour Party conference in response to journalists from The Sun being at the event, with one delegate asking why leader Sir Keir Starmer had allowed the “rag” to attend.

When a Labour official defended welcoming journalists from “a range of publications”, more boos could be heard.

Copies of The Sun newspaper are banned from the party’s annual gathering following a decision taken when the conference was held in Liverpool in 2016.

A widespread boycott of the paper has been in place in Liverpool due to its coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Four days after the tragedy, in which 97 Liverpool supporters died at an FA Cup semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest, The Sun ran a front page story in which, among other accusations, it accused LFC fans of pickpocketing victims, “urinating on cops” and beating up a policeman giving the “kiss of life”.

The newspaper later apologised but sales and its reputation in Liverpool have never recovered.

A delegate called Emma from Sefton Central Labour Party told the conference in Brighton: “I’d like to know why the CAC (Conference Arrangements Committee) has allowed Murdoch’s lying Tory rag...” At this point her remarks became inaudible due to applause from fellow delegates.

She added: “I can’t believe Keir Starmer and the CAC have allowed that rag to come here.”

Harry Donaldson, who chairs the CAC, replied: “The Sun newspaper is not available in the conference - it has not been since the conference in Liverpool in 2016. We do, however, welcome journalists from a range of publications.”

The Sun is banned from being sold in shops across the city of Liverpool (Getty)
The Sun is banned from being sold in shops across the city of Liverpool (Getty)

Watch: Starmer attacks government over energy crisis

16:30 , Sam Hancock

Calls of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ as conference crowd asked why they joined Labour

16:15 , Chiara Giordano

Labour general secretary David Evans faced heckles of "Oh Jeremy Corbyn!" as he asked members why they joined the party.

He told the crowd at Labour conference "everybody remembers why they joined Labour", asking "what was it for you?"

Calls from the crowd of "Oh Jeremy Corbyn!" came in response.

Labour’s general secretary says he will put his leadership to card vote

16:04 , Chiara Giordano

David Evans, Labour’s general secretary, told the party conference he would put his leadership to a card vote.

Mr Evans said: “I want your support, that is why I will be calling for a card vote on my election as general secretary.”

Angela Rayner vows to ‘stamp out Tory sleaze that has polluted our politics'

15:44 , Chiara Giordano

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner vowed to "stamp out the Tory sleaze that has polluted our politics and corrupted our democracy" as she outlined proposed reforms to workers' rights.

Ms Rayner told delegates in Brighton: "What a contrast to a government that is taking £1,400 out of the pockets of a nurse while over £2 billion of taxpayers' money has been dished out to Tory donors and mates of ministers.

"There's only one rule with this cabinet and that is that there's one rule for them and one rule for all of us."

Ms Rayner accused ministers of using the "public purse as a personal cashpoint" before adding: "We'll stop the dodgy deals handing public money to ministers' mates. It's bad news for my pub landlord, but good news for the public.

"And let me tell you this - as your minister for procurement, I won't sign off a single penny that goes to a company that exploits its workers or doesn't pay its taxes.

"We will stamp out the Tory sleaze that has polluted our politics and corrupted our democracy. The racket is over. Their time is up."

‘We must become the government our nation deserves, not the one it has,’ says deputy leader Angela Rayner

15:28 , Chiara Giordano

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner is speaking at the party’s conference in Brighton.

She started by thanking all those who have helped the country during the coronavirus pandemic, before saying Labour “must become the government our nation deserves, not the one it has”.

Ms Rayner announced the party was publishing its green paper on employment rights, which, among other policies, includes the idea of fair pay agreements.

 (BBC)
(BBC)

Labour MP stresses need to convince Conservative voters to back party as he opens conference

15:17 , Chiara Giordano

Labour MP Peter Kyle (Hove) opened the party conference in Brighton by telling delegates about the need to convince Conservative voters to back the party.

He stressed the importance of making residents' priorities those of Labour, adding: "Listening to Tories doesn't make you a Tory, it helps you beat them."

‘Discontent in party’, left-wing Labour MPs say, as Starmer targets rule changes

15:04 , Chiara Giordano

MPs have claimed those on Labour’s left are “afraid to say anything”, as internal tensions threaten to overshadow the party conference in Brighton.

Senior left-wing figures within the party have told The Independent some members are concerned over Sir Keir Starmer’s attempts to rewrite leadership contest rules and criticised disciplinary procedures.

Ian Lavery MP said that some members, councillors, and MPs – overwhelmingly supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn – are being silenced by letters the party sends out after it deems them to have broken its rules.

My colleague Lamiat Sabin has more on this story:

‘Discontent’ within Labour, left-wing MPs say, as Starmer targets rule changes

Opinion: The pressure is on Keir Starmer – he can’t afford to look weak

14:35 , Chiara Giordano

To voters, headlines about a climbdown risk making the Labour leader look weak, our political columnist Andrew Grice writes about Sir Keir Starmer abandoning plans to overhaul how future leaders are elected.

The only consolation is that he avoided a humiliating defeat on the conference floor; that would have been noticed by more people than the tactical retreat that became inevitable.

Read the full piece for Indy Voices here:

The pressure is on Keir Starmer – he can’t afford to look weak | Andrew Grice

Conference schedule

13:50 , Zoe Tidman

Labour’s conference will be the first in-person conference since Sir Keir Starmer became leader after last year’s gathering was cancelled because of coronavirus.

It is being at the Brighton Centre and the Hilton Brighton Metropole from Saturday to Wednesday.

Colin Drury has a run-through of the schedule:

When is the Labour party conference and what is the schedule of events?

13:29 , Zoe Tidman

Keir Starmer has joined Love Island star Amy Hart for a question and answer session in Brighton:

Keir Starmer has done a Q&A with Amy Hart (PA)
Keir Starmer has done a Q&A with Amy Hart (PA)

‘Brighton ready'

13:14 , Zoe Tidman

Keir Starmer has shared a picture of him and Angela Rayner surrounded by “Vote Labour” banners with the caption: “Brighton ready”.

Labour’s ruling committee backs revised reforms, Starmer says

13:05 , Zoe Tidman

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour‘s ruling National Executive Committee had backed his revised set of party reforms.

“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.’’

PA

Labour says it would bring back industry-wide collective bargaining for wages

12:44 , Chiara Giordano

Angela Rayner is expected to announce a Labour government would bring back binding industry-wide agreements governing workers' wages.

The deputy Labour leader will commit the party to introducing "Fair Pay Agreements" - staring with the social care sector - as she opens the party’s annual conference in Brighton today.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more details:

Labour says it would bring back industry-wide collective bargaining for wages

‘It’s not embarrassing’: Angela Rayner defends Starmer’s last-minute climbdown over leadership election reforms

11:52 , Chiara Giordano

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has played down Sir Keir Starmer’s last-minute climbdown over leadership election reforms.

Speaking on her way to the party’s conference in Brighton this morning, Ms Rayner insisted the U-turn wasn’t “embarrassing” for the Labour leader and that he was looking “incredibly strong”.

She told Sky News: “It’s not embarrassing; it’s a normal hustle and bustle of what we do when we’re at conference.”

Sir Keir Starmer accuses government of ‘letting people down so badly’ as he arrives at Labour Party conference

11:39 , Chiara Giordano

Sir Keir Starmer has spoken to supporters after arriving at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, accusing the government of "letting people down so badly".

As he posed for pictures, reporters shouted questions, asking why he had "backed down" on his party leadership election reforms and questioning whether this marked an "embarrassing start" to the conference.

The Labour leader, flanked by deputy leader Angela Rayner and party chair Anneliese Dodds, told those gathered: "It is absolutely fantastic to be here in Brighton.

"We're all really, really looking forward to this, our first chance to speak to the party in person and set out our vision for the future.

"We're obviously in a crucial time for the country and this Government is letting people down so badly, whether it is hammering working people on tax and Universal Credit, whether it is shortages of food and fuel.

"I've just been up the road (and seen) three petrol stations, one of them with a massive queue and two of them with no fuel.

"So this is our opportunity to set out the alternatives, set out the vision, set out our ideas, and we're all really looking forward to this. Thank you so much."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives at the party’s conference in Brighton alongside deputy leader Angela Rayner (middle) and party chair Anneliese Dodds (left) (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives at the party’s conference in Brighton alongside deputy leader Angela Rayner (middle) and party chair Anneliese Dodds (left) (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Key issues expected to be debated during party conference

11:23 , Chiara Giordano

The proposals for reforms to how future leaders are elected are unlikely to be the only controversial issue debated by delegates in Brighton today.

Other conference flashpoints for the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer could include rows over the party’s position on trans rights, commitments on tackling climate change, and changes mandated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission after its investigation into antisemitism.

Of the various motions covering 50 different areas up for discussion, one is on the decriminalisation of drugs, referencing the Portuguese model of seeing addiction as a health issue.

On Thursday, Sir Keir expressed support for a decision to relax drug laws for those found in possession of class A substances in Scotland.

Some 139 local party groups also submitted motions pushing for Labour to support a change to a proportional representation electoral system.

This was backed by pressure group Compass in a report released ahead of the conference.

Ms Rayner will open the conference on Saturday by launching a Green Paper on Employment Rights.

Improving wages, job security and rights at work will improve productivity as well as the health of workers, she will say.

Sir Keir will make a speech on Wednesday, having released a document running to more than 11,500 words where he said the party cannot "wait around for the public to decide we are right" and must instead grasp the opportunities the current political atmosphere provides.

Labour proposes ‘legal duty of care’ on social media firms to stop scams

11:00 , Chiara Giordano

Labour would take social media firms to task for scams hosted on their platforms in proposals to protect families from online fraud.

The party said the government was putting the public at risk by not including online scams as part of the upcoming Online Safety Bill.

Labour said it would place a "proper, effective legal duty of care on the social media companies about what they host on their platforms".

Shadow digital, culture and media secretary Jo Stevens will tell the Labour conference on Sunday that this would not only apply to scams but also to "increasing levels of child abuse, self-harm and suicide content, dangerous anti-vax misinformation, discrimination, hate speech and more".

‘You can’t turn baggage handlers into butchers overnight,’ CBI chief warns

10:40 , Chiara Giordano

Away from the party conference, the head of the CBI has warned the shortage of lorry drivers is indicative of much wider problems in the economy.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Tony Danker said: "We don't have skilled butchers, we don't have skilled welders, we don't have chefs, we don't have electrical engineers, so there are labour shortages across the economy.

“All parts of the economy at the moment are suffering from a pile of problems that are stopping us getting the economy moving. So, we need to roll up our sleeves and solve them.”

Mr Danker said the government’s insistence that employers recruit and train British workers will not help the situation in the short term.

“You can’t turn round when there are shortages, fold your arms as some government ministers have done, and say: ‘Well, just put up wages and it will sort it’,” he said.

“It won’t sort it, you can’t turn baggage handlers into butchers overnight or shopkeepers into chefs - you can do it over three to five years maybe, but you can’t do it overnight.”

Sir Keir Starmer ‘pleased’ with reforms he will be putting to party’s national executive committee

10:25 , Chiara Giordano

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is "pleased" with the reforms he will be putting to the party's National Executive Committee (NEC), according to a spokesman.

It comes as it appeared Sir Keir had abandoned plans to shake up how future leaders are elected by moving back to an electoral college system.

A spokesman said: "Keir said on Tuesday it wasn't a take it or leave it deal.

"That's how we've approached it and we're pleased with where we've ended up."

PA news agency understands there will be "significant changes" to the leadership rules.

They include raising the threshold of MP nominations to 25 per cent for leadership elections and abandoning registered supporter involvement.

Proposals to bring back electoral college not on meeting agenda, says Labour’s deputy leader

10:10 , Chiara Giordano

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said she had been told proposals to bring back an electoral college are not on the agenda for the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Saturday.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said: "We've got an NEC meeting later today.

"I'm told that the electoral college is not on the order paper for the NEC - I haven't seen it because I got up at 5am this morning to speak to all of you in the media.

"But, you know what, that is not uncommon."

Asked whether leader Sir Keir Starmer's proposals were likely to be voted on at conference, Ms Rayner added: "Some will, some won't because that's the natural rhythm of how conference works."

Pressed on whether the reforms for how a future leader is elected will be voted on, she replied: "I've told you my understanding is that the electoral college is not coming to the NEC, so therefore that wouldn't."

Fuel crisis adds to ‘double whammy’ of benefit cuts, says Angela Rayner

09:55 , Chiara Giordano

Angela Rayner says the government's fuel crisis has added to the "double whammy" for working families of increases to National Insurance and cuts to universal credit.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: "The money that's going in to people's pockets has been significantly reduced."

Ms Rayner said Labour was calling for a "minimum floor" in employment practices to help businesses keep staff.

"Those staff are happier, (businesses) retain them within their workforce, and they don't have to reskill people again and skill people up, so it actually has benefits for employers.

"We are behind other European countries, we're behind in the world on these sort of protections that people have, and we want to make sure that we bring that to the British people."

‘The electoral college is dead,’ says Momentum

09:39 , Chiara Giordano

Left-wing campaign group Momentum said proposals to bring back Labour's electoral college were "dead".

Mish Rahman, a member of Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) and Momentum's national co-ordinating group, said: "The central measure of Keir Starmer's attack on democracy has comprehensively failed.

"The electoral college is dead.

"Now to make sure all the other regressive rule changes concocted by the leadership share the same fate.

"From trigger ballot changes to increases in the MP nomination threshold ahead, they all need to go in the bin.

"Starmer won't stop trying to rig democracy, so we can't stop defending it."

Better pay and working conditions will boost staff retention, says deputy Labour leader

09:25 , Chiara Giordano

Angela Rayner has insisted better pay and working conditions will ease pressure on employers by boosting staff retention and cutting the number of working days lost to sick leave.

“Having good employment practices - and we see that it’s in all parts of the sector - means that you have good staff retention (and) we have those skills that are retained within the organisation,” she told BBC Breakfast.

She continued: “Good employers are already doing this.

“We do think it’s about time that we have these minimum standards because we’ve seen this epidemic of insecure work and low pay, which is causing a crisis and vacancies in things like social care.”

The deputy Labour leader added: “It delivers poorer services and those employers are now finding it incredibly difficult to retain the staff that they need and to skill them up.

“This is part of that programme to enable employers to get the skills they need, but also means that workers can have that guarantee and those reassurances, and it’s about a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

Angela Rayner voices ‘frustration’ at relaxation of visa rules for foreign drivers

09:10 , Chiara Giordano

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has described her “frustration” at government policies that have led to the expected announcement that visa rules for foreign drivers will be relaxed.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Saturday, she said: “It’s frustrating that we’ve got to this point that the government are having to do that, because their own policies created this situation we’ve got in the first place.”

Ms Rayner urged people not to panic buy but added: “The government does need to address this issue but it has been a long time coming - we know that lorry and HGV drivers are skilled workers.

“This was coming down the tracks and the government haven’t done anything to address it, and now we face this crisis.”

Raising party reforms at annual conference would be a ‘bit rushed’, says Fire Brigades Union chief

09:00 , Chiara Giordano

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said it would be a "bit rushed" for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to bring his party reforms to the autumn conference.

The trade union leader, who was part of a Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation (Tulo) meeting this week to discuss the proposals with Sir Keir, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the first thing to say is what do people want out of Labour conference?

"We've got a jobs crisis coming up, a living standards crisis coming, energy crisis and so on.

"If Labour is going to win power and take on the Tories, I think people need to see Labour standing up for working people and that's what we want, and I'm sure that's what Labour voters want to hear - not a debate around how we elect a leader or select Labour MPs, and obviously how that will engage people wondering who to vote for."

Mr Wrack added: "The Tulo organisation, the 12 affiliated unions, have agreed that we want consensus and the only way we can have consensus is if we meet. And there are no plans to meet.

"The conference starts today, so it seems a bit rushed to try and bring major proposals about the constitution of the Labour Party in a morning."

Keir Starmer waters down Labour rulebook overhaul as he abandons electoral college proposal

08:52 , Chiara Giordano

Sir Keir Starmer has abandoned plans to overhaul Labour’s rulebook by changing the way future leaders are elected in a major climbdown just as the party’s annual conference kicks off.

It comes after the Labour leader endured a “car crash” meeting with union chiefs on Friday afternoon in which he failed to drum up support for the reintroduction of the electoral college system.

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the full story:

Starmer waters down Labour rulebook overhaul as he drops electoral college proposal

Keir Starmer drops key leadership election changes hours before annual meeting

08:39 , Chiara Giordano

It looks like Keir Starmer has U-turned on plans to change the way future leaders are elected at the eleventh hour.

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has this report:

Keir Starmer has abandoned plans to overhaul Labour’s rulebook by changing the way future leaders are elected in a major climbdown just as the party’s annual conference kicks off.

The opposition leader had wanted to rewrite the regulations for his party’s internal elections in a move critics said was an attempt to “gerrymander” future leadership elections to the disadvantage of the left.

A senior source told The Independent the proposal to return to the electoral college system — giving MPs a greater say in leadership contests — had been dropped, but insisted Sir Keir will come forward with “different changes” to party conference.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner added: “My understanding is the electoral college is not coming to the NEC [National Executive Committee] so therefore that wouldn’t [be voted on]”.

Asked whether the proposed changes were on or off, the deputy leader added: “Conference is a time where we discuss things like rules… these are things that conference does every year, year upon year.”

Keir Starmer will put reforms to Labour’s National Executive Committee, spokesman confirms

08:32 , Chiara Giordano

Labour has confirmed party leader Sir Keir Starmer will put his reforms for electing future leaders to its National Executive Committee (NEC).

A spokesman for the opposition leader said: “The Labour leader will be putting a package of party reforms to the NEC that better connect us with working people and reorient us toward the voters who can take us to power.”

Keir Starmer fails to win support for Labour rule change in ‘car crash’ meeting

08:27 , Chiara Giordano

Keir Starmer endured a “car crash” meeting with union chiefs on Friday afternoon in which he failed to drum up support for changes to Labour party rules.

The opposition leader had wanted to rewrite the regulations for his party’s internal elections in a move critics said was an attempt to “gerrymander” future leadership elections to the disadvantage of the left.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more on this story:

Keir Starmer fails to win support for rule change in ‘car crash’ meeting with unions

08:27 , Chiara Giordano

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as the Labour Party’s annual conference begins in Brighton today. Stay tuned for rolling updates on the latest news throughout the day.

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