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Burnham wants Labour leadership rules change

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 13 September 2010

Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham has called for a change in the party's leadership election rules to take away power from the unions, as the five contenders prepare for the final hustings at the TUC conference ahead of this month's vote.

Andy Burnham wants Labour leadership rules change (Reuters)

As the five Labour leadership contenders prepare for the final hustings at the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) in Manchester later, one of the candidates has called for the rules of the party's leadership election to be changed.

Andy Burnham, the former Health Secretary, has called for the change, because he thinks the unions have too much sway by funding campaigns and give the favourite candidates an unfair advantage.

He has also called for changes in the way the leader is elected, but has declared that whoever wins under the current rules, will have his backing in opposition.

The next Labour leader will be chosen at the party's autumn conference at the end of September. Mr Burnham will draw up a set of plans to shake up the current electoral system of the party.

He says the current system is unfair because the contest is skewed by the advantage given to those candidates who are supported by the big unions. How that will go down at today's hustings, hosted by the unions, will be interesting.

Burnham told Channel 4 News last month about his 'smaller' campaign:
Andy Burnham is getting a long way on being a nice guy, writes Krishnan Guru-Murthy. He admits himself that he is an outsider but says he is comfortable about being in third place behind David and Ed Miliband, not necessarily in that order.

The Burnham campaign is however, much smaller scale with much less money behind it and a smaller organisation.

However, Andy Burnham is pitching himself as the man who best understands ordinary people.
Read More

Other changes Mr Burnham wants include making the ballot secret, so that MPs' votes are not made public. He says this would prevent MPs from voting for the people they thought would win, rather then the person they want to win.

He also says the mandatory 33 nominations needed to stand in the leadership election should be reduced, thus giving less popular candidates a better chance.

More on the Labour leadership from Channel 4 News:
-
Labour leadership: the contenders
- David Miliband: frontrunner and underdog
- Andy Burnham: the 'ordinary' person's candidate
- Ed Miliband: the alternative brother
- Ed Balls: fighting to win the Labour leadership
- Diane Abbott: more than a token Labour candidate
- Will Straw: leadership will be decided by Balls voters
- Labour leadership: the 'squabble' for power

Battle of the brothers
Yesterday a survey of Labour members and trade unionists by YouGov for the Sunday Times showed David Miliband was leading by a narrow margin on first preferences. However, the pollster calculated that once lower-ranking candidates were eliminated and their second choices redistributed, David's younger brother Ed Miliband would in fact prevail.

Voting is already under way as the party decides who should take the reigns following Gordon Brown's departure. The winner will be announced on the eve of this month's party conference in Manchester.

David Miliband secured the endorsement of veteran left-winger Dennis Skinner over the weekend, a vital backer to combat Ed's left-leaning campaign.

David Miliband warned members that his rivals could condemn the party to opposition for decades and claimed he was the "unity candidate".

The YouGov poll gave David Miliband a 36 per cent to 32 per cent lead on first preferences, but on second preferences it would be a 51 per cent to 49 per cent victory for his brother by the final round.  

The poll put Andy Burnham in third place with 12 per cent, Ed Balls in fourth with 11 per cent and Diane Abbott on nine per cent.

Party members, trade unionists and the party's MPs and MEPs each control a third of the vote under the complex electoral college system employed by Labour.

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