Ed Miliband plans to scrap elections to Labour’s shadow cabinet, enabling him to strengthen his hold on the Labour party by picking his own front bench.
Less than a year ago Labour rejected plans to scrap the historic ballot, which is held every other year in opposition.
But on Saturday the Labour leader will announce the proposals at the National Policy Forum (NPF) meeting, before addressing MPs on Monday at the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
In an email to all Labour MPs, Mr Miliband said the Shadow Cabinet elections represent a legacy of Labour’s past in opposition.
Ed Miliband hopes the move will bring an end to time spent on internal campaigning, helping Labour to look like a party “ready for government”.
A senior Labour source said it was time to “move on from the days of the 1980s” and become a “modern, outward-facing organisation”.
The chairman of the PLP, Tony Lloyd, will be asked to organise a debate and vote on the proposals.
We must be a party looking to the future and if we are to be a party of government again, we must act as one even in opposition. Ed Miliband
Mr Miliband is said to be confident of winning MPs’ support, but their vote is “technically indicative” and he will take the plans to Labour’s conference regardless of the outcome.
The source said: “We don’t need the distraction of internal elections whilst we have a job to do of holding the Government to account and preparing ourselves for the next election.
“We should be talking to the public not ourselves.
On Saturday at the NPF in Wrexham Mr Miliband will talk about the need for the party to change to equip itself for the big challenges facing the future of Britain, ahead of a big package of party reforms going to this year’s annual conference.
Mr Miliband said: “Our job must be to hold the government to account and to concentrate on preparing ourselves for the next election. We should not be distracted by internal elections where we spend time speaking to ourselves rather than the country.”
Mr Miliband’s plans are on the back of the Refounding Labour campaign to rebuild and modernise the party.
The Labour leader’s email said: “We must be a party looking to the future and if we are to be a party of government again, we must act as one even in opposition.”
The proposals will go to the sub-committee of the National Executive Committee (NEC), Labour’s ruling council, on July 5 before being considered by the full NEC on July 19.
Conference would vote on the plans in September and, if passed, the changes would come into force immediately.
Mr Miliband is not planning a reshuffle and there would be no immediate changes, the source was keen to stress.
We don’t need the distraction of internal elections whilst we have a job to do of holding the Government to account and preparing ourselves for the next election. Labour Source
Labour MPs have voted on which men and women take the top jobs while the party is in opposition for more than 50 years.
Under new rules agreed last September there must be a minimum of six female MPs in Labour’s Shadow Cabinet.
No quota would be in place under the reforms but Mr Miliband would expect the Shadow Cabinet to reflect the make-up of the party, aides said.
Labour MP John McDonnell said he was “really disappointed” by the proposals.
“I’m disappointed it was brought forward – it’s not just the Shadow Cabinet elections – I read in the papers as well that Ed is proposing that we scrap the quota for women in the Cabinet. And, although he committed himself to an elected chair of the party in the leadership campaign, he’s now saying that he doesn’t support an elected chair for the party,” he told Radio 4.
Meanwhile, the Conservative’s deputy chairman Michael Fallon said Mr Miliband should concentrate on breaking the unions’ hold over Labour.
“Ed Miliband became leader of the Labour Party without the support of his own MPs, without the support of his Party’s members and was installed thanks to the union barons riding roughshod over the entire election,” he said.
“Instead of leading an irrelevant debate on axing Labour’s Shadow Cabinet elections, he should make sure trade unions can’t steal the Labour leadership. Only then can he be taken seriously as Labour’s leader.”