Peter Hain is preparing to shelve plans for a directly elected chair of the Labour party. According to Labour sources the position will not be included as part of the “Refounding Labour” review currently being conducted by the shadow Welsh secretary.
“Peter has told colleagues he is no longer convinced of the benefits of a directly elected chair,” said an insider.
The proposal had enjoyed the support of both David and Ed Miliband during the Labour leadership campaign, and was thought to have represented an important element of both brother’s plans for reshaping the party in the wake if its election defeat.
“A directly elected chair isn’t going to happen,” said a source close to Labour’s leadership team. “All of the really sensitive organisational proposals are now being toned down.”
Differing electoral models had been discussed, from a vote of delegates at Labour Party conference, to a comprehensive one-member-one-vote ballot of individual party members. The latter proposal enjoyed the support of grassroots members, and activist groups such as Compass. However, there were concerns among the trade unions that it could presage a shift to one-member-one-vote elections for the party leadership.
There had been speculation that senior backbencher Jon Cruddas was being lined up for the role, although other Labour sources had suggested the post could provide an opportunity to groom a new generation of leaders, such as Chuka Umunna or Stella Creasy.
However, a Labour insider said the decision to shelve the proposal in part reflected the present leadership’s desire to avoid creating “competing power structures”.
“The last thing they need at the moment is a lot of different people floating around with independent mandates and independent constituencies,” said a source. Another Labour insider claimed it was simply a reflection of continuing problems with the Refounding Labour consultation. “The whole thing’s turning into a bit of a mess,” he said.
Consultation over the proposals is due to be completed by the end of June, with recommendations due to be put to the NEC in September, before being discussed at Labour party conference.