#Lab21: Delegates defy Starmer voting to nationalise energy firms but rulebook reforms slide through

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#Lab21

Victory for Sir Keir Starmer and his allies over watered-down reforms on Labour rules.

This means under the reforms, leadership hopefuls will now have to secure the support of 20% of the party’s MPs (up from the current 10%) before becoming an official candidate in a leadership contest.

And a “registered supporters” scheme, which allowed people to pay a one-off fee to vote in a Labour leadership election, has been scrapped.

Sir Keir’s reforms have also made it harder for current Labour MPs to be de-selected, by raising the threshold for triggering a selection contest.

In a vote at the Labour gathering in Brighton, Sir Keir’s overhaul of how the party elects future leaders was passed by 53.67% to 46.33%.

Nationalisation

Sir Keir Starmer has faced a furious backlash from the Labour left after he ruled out nationalising Britain’s biggest energy companies, a major departure from the party’s position under Jeremy Corbyn.

Defying Starmer’s leadership, Labour delegates voted in favour of energy firms being taken into public ownership at the party conference in Brighton on Sunday.

It marks a second conference defeat for the Labour leader, who was forced to water down his planned shake-up of leadership election rules.

Labour activists and left-wing MPs accused Starmer of breaking his own promises after he pledged during last year’s leadership campaign to “support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary under Corbyn, said: “Campaigning for the leadership, Keir Starmer said he was in favour of common ownership. It was one of his ten pledges.”

Owen Jones accused Starmer of “saying things to get elected he doesn’t really mean”, adding: “He’s violated the explicit promises he made to get elected leader. This is dishonesty – and it destroys faith in democracy”.

Appearing on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday Sir Keir Starmer has said a Labour government would not seek to nationalise the big six energy companies, apparently ditching a leadership campaign pledge to “support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

Starmer was asked directly whether he would consider nationalising the key energy providers to tackle the energy crisis. He replied: “No.”

Labour delegates on the conference floor voted overwhelming in favour of a “socialist green new deal” motion – explicitly backing public ownership of energy companies. The motion also called for the creation of millions of green jobs and publicly-owned green investment banks.

Gaya Sriskanthan, co-chair of the Momentum, welcomed the result: “This is a turning point. The grassroots have had enough of timid centrism and have overwhelmingly endorsed transformative socialist policy that meets the crises of the 21st century head on.”

“Starmer has spent long enough running away from his ten pledges, it’s time to support transformative policy. Labour members back bold solutions, the leadership needs to follow suit.”

Chris Saltmarsh, the co-founder of the Labour for a Green New Deal campaign, also hailed the result. “Despite efforts to block this motion and stifle party democracy, members have demonstrated the strength of support for a transformative climate agenda.”

Urging the leadership to heed members’ wishes in the next manifesto, the activist added: “[Starmer] should re-state the ambitious pledges of his leadership campaign, and put the green new deal at the heart of his agenda.”

Labour MP Jon Trickett also urged Starmer and his team to listen to the conference vote. “Democracy must prevail,” he tweeted.

Although the votes of delegates are supposed to shape party policies, the leadership does not always follow conference motions when it comes to writing the manifesto.

#Lab21

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