Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'factional power grab' as Labour split re-emerges

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Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of attempting a “factional power grab” of Labour as another bitter split emerged between the Left and Right wings of the party ahead of its conference. 

Centrist members hoping to derail Mr Corbyn’s plans for party reform are to stage rallies across the country to galvanise support against hard-Left activists.

Sweeping reforms are set to include an attempt to pass the “McDonnell amendment”, which would lower the number of MPs and MEPs needed to get a candidate on the ballot paper in leadership elections.

Currently 15 per cent of MPs and MEPs are needed to nominate a candidate. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has long pushed for it to be reduced to five per cent, because hard-Left candidates struggle to get on the nomination paper.

Other topics that centrist MPs fear will be put to a vote at the conference in Brighton from September 24 to 27 include expediting deselections, plans for a second deputy leader to undermine Tom Watson, and extra places on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee. 

Richard Angell, chairman of the pressure group Progress, said: “What this conference will show is whether Corbyn is serious about becoming prime minister and changing the country or focused on changing the Labour Party. 

“Somebody who believes there will be a general election before Christmas or Brexit, or afterwards, could use this opportunity to have one strong message for the British public being ready for power, and have a blistering attack on the Tory Government. 

“Instead they might focus on changing the party and use it as a factional power grab. And that’s what’s going to become clear in the coming weeks.”

A source close to Mr Corbyn said: “Some of the language and approach of these groups can be, at times, unfortunate, but there is nothing wrong with different parts of our party putting forward their ideas.

“The mainstream opinion within the party is solidly behind Jeremy and the manifesto’s policies because they represent what the majority of the British people want.”

The source said the proposed reforms were a “members’ plan” and not Mr Corbyn’s, and most party members wanted Labour to be more democratic.

The Labour First group will hold “Road to Conference” events in London and elsewhere on September 11 to brief “Progress, Labour First and other moderate members” on the proposed rule changes, including the McDonnell amendment.

The NEC is now tipped in Mr Corbyn’s favour after Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale quit.

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