Ed Miliband suffered a setback on his first day of the Labour conference after he failed in his symbolic attempt to reduce the relative influence of unions over future leadership elections.
A new cadre of “registered supporters” – thousands of members of the public who wants to influence the result – will have up to 10 per cent of the total vote, after a “Refounding Labour” document was expected to be passed at the Liverpool gathering.
But this will be at the expense of MPs, constituencies and unions alike, contrary to Mr Miliband’s original plan to carve out the new group from the union section – a move which would have diluted the union’s influence.
And the registered supporters will not get any vote at all until they get to the magic figure of 50,000.
The Labour leader had been keen to make the symbolic break because of criticism of the way in which he won last year’s leadership elections with heavy backing from the big unions.
The final result annoyed some constituency members, who had presumed that their vote would not be diluted as a result of the initiative.
The Financial Times revealed earlier this month that the unions had thwarted similar proposals to reduce unions’ voting power at conference from its current 50 per cent. That issue will now be debated again next spring.