Keir Starmer has emerged victorious in his battle with the Left to reform Labour's rulebook.

In a significant boost to the Leader's authority, Labour delegates backed his controversial rules shake-up, despite a revolt amongst unions and the Left.

It means major changes to how the party holds leadership contests will go ahead and new measures which strengthen MPs' position with their local parties.

Candidates will now need the backing of 20% of MPs, or 40 on current numbers, to become a leadership candidate.

The registered supporters scheme, which allowed people who paid a small fee and signed a declaration of support to vote, will also be ditched.

Conference also backed proposals to raise the bar for which MPs can face a deselection threat, from a third of members or trade unions/affiliates to half of both groups.

Labour delegates at the party conference in Brighton (

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Starmer was forced to water down his original plan – which would have seen the party move back to an electoral college system of splitting leadership election votes between members, unions and MPs – on the eve of the Labour Party's conference in Brighton, after unions blocked it.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds told delegates the rule changes will help Labour win elections.

“I have had the honour of being a Labour MP for 11 years. I have seen four general elections in that time, I have seen four leadership elections in that time, and I have often been on the losing side of these," he said.

“But I have served every Labour leader as a member of Labour’s frontbench in that time and I have only ever wanted two things: a Labour Party that can win an election and a Labour Party that deserves to win an election because it offers real hope and real change for the future.

“These are a package of rule changes that help us do both. On MPs reselection, I believe a Labour MP must have the support of their local members and local union branches. Frankly, you couldn’t do the job if you didn’t have that. But the current system, where you can have the support of two thirds of your local party but not be reselected if a minority opposes you, means far too much time is spent by our MPs managing that situation rather than facing the public.”

He added: “And if we can all agree on one thing is that the Conservative Party is a ruthless organisation when it comes to the pursuit of power. The current rules means we are sent out to fight them with one hand tied behind our backs. These proposed rule changes would free Labour MPs to take the fight to the Tories whilst making sure there is the proper accountability to local members and affiliates. And conference, we have to take this decision now.”

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and party's Deputy Leader Angela Rayner attend Britain's Labour Party annual conference, in Brighton (

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But the debate on the rule changes was not without controversy, as several delegates warned the leadership the plan was "undemocratic".

General secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack hit out at Starmer. and Dave Ward, boss of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), claimed delegates had been "misled" about unions being consulted.

“I want to make a point about the way this is being presented because it has been said, and I believe that conference has been misled on this, that these rules changes relating to future leadership elections have been done after consultations with trade unions," said Ward. "I am here to say to you that from the CWU’s point of view, we have not been consulted and I don’t want it implied that we have been, which is what I believe has been briefed and was stated in the NEC document.

“Had we been consulted, we would have made the point that we feel that we are being bounced and even at this late stage, Keir, I think you should reflect on whether or not this needs to come to this particular conference. I’d ask you to think about creating unity in the party, looking outwards and deferring the leadership election changes that will bring you forward.”

Unite member Agnes Tolmie also made a speech opposing the rule changes to leadership elections, saying: “Despite the blundering, the catastrophes and the utter shambles, they (the Conservatives) are still beating us in the polls, how is that? Because guess what we’re doing? We’re standing here coming up with wonderful policies… how to win back Labour voters.

“No, no, us, we are getting drawn in here, bounced into a situation where we are arguing, quite frankly, about rule changes. And most people out there don’t understand them. They don’t care about them, they are not interested in them. They want to know what we are doing for them.”