Labour will stop MPs vetoing leadership candidates, says Ken Livingstone

Labour’s ruling body will look at changing its rules to stop its MPs being able to veto party leadership candidates so easily, according to one of its members, Ken Livingstone.

The former London mayor said he thought the national executive committee would resolve the situation in which candidates currently need to get support of 15% of Labour MPs to make it on to the ballot.

One suggestion is that candidates would only need to be nominated by one MP to be considered by the wider membership.

The move would make it easier for candidates unpopular with the parliamentary party to get on to the ballot, which has been a barrier for leftwing candidates in the past.

Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected by a landslide among the membership, only made it on to the ballot because he was lent support by some MPs in order to broaden the debate.

Since then, he has faced hostility from much of the parliamentary party who are opposed to his leadership, with some of his nominees saying they regretted having allowed him to run.

Their reservations about Corbyn’s project to take the party to the left could make it difficult for any leftwing successor to take over from him at some point in future, unless the makeup of MPs changes significantly at the next election.

However, Livingstone, in an interview with the New Statesman, said he thought the NEC was moving to “resolve that issue”.

“The idea of Labour MPs having a veto over who stands is nonsense,” he continued. “The Labour party before Blair was a genuinely open, democratic one. Jeremy’s bringing that back. Exactly how isn’t going to be resolved until the annual conference. But that’s what we want back.”

The senior Labour politician said he thought Labour has the best chance of winning the next election if George Osborne, the chancellor, takes over as Tory leader because he is an “obnoxious snob”.

“People are really struggling, there’s been no improvement, except for a small elite,” he said. “If we’re really lucky, things will just continue to be painful. If we’re really unlucky, there’ll be another crash. That’s the road to what’s coming. That’s the potential. If we can convince people there’s a better way, we can win.”

He added: “I’m hoping [the next Tory leader will be] Osborne, because he’s the most obnoxious snob in British politics. That’d be good.

“The contrast between George Osborne and Jeremy Corbyn, who everybody is going to accept is actually a nicer and more regular guy, is exactly what we want.”

Powered by article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for on Wednesday 17th February 2016 20.55 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010